Wednesday, April 7, 2010

It seems so cliched to be writing about this today. I almost didn't as so many other websites and blogs will have covered this in so much detail, but you just have to give a passing nod to the wonders Lionel Messi had on show in yesterday's Champions League game against Arsenal at the Nou Camp.

I'm pretty sure most people who are reading this will have seen his outstanding four goal performance last night. If not, why not and where the hell have you been today?!

The game itself wasn't actually one of the best. It was typical Champions League fare for most of it, a fact many people seem to have overlooked, but Messi's performance was more than a stand out. The first leg, and especially Barca's performance in it, was a classic game. It was a hard act to follow, much like Messi himself.

There's so many words you could throw at him today and many have. Very little of the hyperbole though can really sum up the kind of season that Messi is currently having. Since the turn of the year he has been electric, with four hat tricks in 2010, three of them in the last 24 days, and to net a staggering 39 goals for Barca in just 43 appearances this season is truly gifted when you consider the comepetitions he is playing in.

2009/10 could very well be Messi's career defining season, much like Cristiano Ronaldo had with Man United in 2007/08, only much much better!

It wasn't so much his four goals that thrilled me last night. It was more the manner he took them. His finishing was exceptional. A true masterclass of how to keep goalies guessing and clinically finish. If you were coaching kids, you would just want to stick on a Messi highlights dvd from this season.

I can't remember being more impressed at seeing such a top level performance from a player as I was last night. The ball seemed glued to his boots at times. He seems to have it all and at just 22 he must surely go on to be not just the player of our generation, but potentially the greatest player of all time. If everybody doesn't heap far too much pressure on his young shoulders that is.

To be remembered with such greatness he needs to continually score consistantly at both European and International level. That's a hard ask for any player, past or present. Hopefully we don't see him take some bad paths the way other legends of the game like Maradona and Best have.

He's certainly doing the club part in Europe, with 25 goals in 44 Champions League appearances so far. Internationally, his 13 goals for Argentina haven't quite got me putting him in the same categories as Pele and Maradona just yet, but it's so early days in his career and I'm just hard to please!!

So much will be gauged and written after the World Cup in South Africa in a few weeks. I do worry that the pressure that is going to be put on him won't let his best come across at the Finals. It must be so hard for him just now to feel that he has to keep turning in performance after performance for both Club and country. I think many of pundits actually forget just what age he is.

He's certainly going in to the World Cup with all guns blazing and must have the most amazing confidence just now. I can't wait to see him in action against the world's best. He's one of the few players in the world today that I would actually pay just to watch.

With El Clasico coming up on Saturday at the Bernebau, what's the chances of us seeing another amazing hat trick from Lionel Messi. Might just be worth a little flutter at the bookies. Sunday's match is certainly now more must-see viewing than ever.

If Cristiano Ronaldo can be sold for around £80 million, I'd love to know what value would be placed on Messi just now. I doubt we'll ever find out!

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