Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Lionel Messi – The Greatest of All Time

Earlier tonight, last night or even the 6th April (depending on when you read this), myself and the World tuned in to watch Arsenal face up to Barcelona at the Camp Nou. After an excellent 2-2 draw at the Emirates, Arsenal traveled to Spain with a depleted squad leaving the likes of Captain Cesc Fabregas, Robin Van Persie, William Gallas, Andrey Arshavin in London along with long term absentees Aaron Ramsey, Kieran Gibbs and Johan Djourou. While the Catalan giants and reigning European Champions had Carlos Puyol and Gerrard Pique suspended, with Andreas Iniesta and Zlatan Ibrahimovic were out injured. All the talk pre hand was Thierry Henry’s return to his former club and of course the current FIFA player of the year; Lionel Messi.

After the first match, where Messi had had a relatively quiet game, some of the pressure had seemingly been taken off the small Argentine. Now don’t get me wrong, most people know I’m a big fan of Arsenal, but above all else I am a fan of football and the performance of Messi was something to behold.

Throughout the match in the Camp Nou, Barca again dominated the possession while having a few lackluster attempts on goal, compared the 1st leg, where they barraged Arsenal goal with attempts. Then, around 18 minutes in, Abou Diaby stole the ball off Gabriel Milito and played in English winger Theo Walcott, who sprung the offside trap and burst through on goal, squaring for the inform Nicklas Bendtner, who at the second attempt, put the ball away.

The Barca fans and side were stunned silent and were in disbelief, however after this seamless act of “disrespect” Barca responded immediately and this is when Messi took the game to the Gunners in the final third, and thanks to poor defending from Mikael Silvestre, a sign of things to come, the Argentine smashed the ball in the top corner. The Camp Nou erupted, but Arsenal was still in with a shout.

16 minutes later Messi done it again. This time picking the ball up from 30 yards out, picked out a great pass to find Eric Abidal down the left, and attempt a square ball into the box, was poorly cleared by Arsenal again, the ball fell to Messi who had started the move, and dinked the ball over Almunia with his right foot. Again Messi celebrated, the Camp Nou again erupted, and Arsene Wenger looked dismayed. The Argentinean, pushed his team into the lead and carried the Barca team forward.

5 minutes later, the ball lost in midfield, a high line from Arsenal, a simple headed ball through, away goes Messi who carries the ball towards the goal, looks square, decides against playing in teenage prodigy Bojan, looks at Almunia and outrageously chips the Spaniard and wheels away in celebration. An excellent goal, to cap an excellent 21 minutes for the Argentine and for Barca.

Half time came and went, with Arsenal almost conceding immediately after half time, managed to restrict Barca to no more real chances. Arsenal brought on Eduardo and Eboue in an attempt to salvage something, but the Arsenal side look tired, and after chasing the Spanish giants for near enough 3 hrs of football, and with 2 minutes left on the clock, Xavi jinked passed Denilson, shimmied left and slid in Messi again... Eboue playing him onside, went passed the chasing back Clichy and Vermaelen, hitting his 1st shot directly at Almunia, and then easily smashing the rebound in.

4 goals in the one of the biggest games of the season, in the biggest club competition in the World. Messi undoubtedly the star of the show, head and shoulders above fellow professionals including the likes of Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo. After displaying amazing attacking ability and bravery, opposition boss Arsene Wenger said:
"I believe we lost against a team that is better than us and that has the best player in the world. Once he's on the run, Messi is unstoppable. He's the only player who can change direction at such a pace."
I echo these sentiments, and feel that not only is he the best player in the World, but the best ever. Some people say the likes of Pele, Eusebio, Bobby Charlton, George Best and who can forget the man he has been forever compared to Diego Maradona, but there were players from a different era. Messi is only 22 years old, and already has 119 goals in 204 games, while scoring 4 hat tricks this year alone.

This performance, along with his many other excellent displays in the number 10 shirt, showcasing his pace, bravery, amazing dribbling ability, power, strength and shooting accuracy, you’ll have to come up with a well thought out and valid argument, with some very strong reasoning for me to reconsider. In a team which won every tournament/competition it entered in calendar season 2008/2009 alone, and combined with great players such as Puyol, Xavi, Iniesta, Alves and many more, it seems not only is Messi the greatest ever, but he could be playing in the greatest team ever.

Real Talk Football gives its tributes to Lionel Messi. What’s more to come??

1 comment:

  1. at only 22, to have achieved so much and be on the level he is at already, is incredible. should be interesting to see how the "Special One" deals with him in the semis...