While 2008 was Cristiano Ronaldo's year to scoop up all the awards, Lionel Messi wasn't too far behind the Manchester United star. It looks as though Messi is ready to make 2009 his year after kicking off the new year in spectacular fashion for Barcelona with a hat-trick in his first match, a 3-1 Copa Del Rey win vs. Atletico Madrid.
Check out Messi's first and third goals, both deserving of a look and a wow, after the jump:
Messi is way better than CR. The only people who don’t agree are Portuguese people and people who love the EPL. The EPL is way overrated. Just wait till the knock out stage of the Champions League.
Nowhere in my post did I imply that CR does not work hard or is not an skilled player. My point was directed towards the defensive skill level in the EPL and the advantages it gives opposing players. If you watch enough games from both leagues you notice a marked difference in both styles and I do believe it has everything to do with skill.
In the Spanish (and Italian and to a lesser degree, the German) it appears the first instinct is to gain control of the ball regardless of the situation and start play from the back in a controlled way. The very last recourse (and I mean very very very last) is the big boot to clear.
In the EPL, the big clear seems to be the first option, and the defenders seem awkward when the ball comes at them from odd angles (I swear you could read their minds mid-play: “Oh shoot! Oh no! What do I do know now?”)
I wish I could find an article – during the last Euro Cup – that analyzed the EPL and La Liga defensive styles and why Fernando Torres had had so much success since he arrived at Liverpool.
Messi has been the best all-around player the last two years.
And I agree with you also. Look at the Atletico Madrid player (I can’t make out his number) on the third goal at the lower right hand corner of the screen at the beginning of the segment. He makes no attempt to come over and cover Messi as the ball is to the left and stands there and puts his hand up meekly as Messi collects the ball and jukes the keeper. Pathetic. But what Messi is so good at is finding those seams in the defense by his continuous movement (the guy is an energizer bunny), his great timing and his vision, which makes it extremely difficult to keep him covered because he is never in the same part of the field so its easy to lose who is responsible for covering him. It’s a defensive mistake, but one that I think is at least partly caused by Messi himself.
Same on the first goal. Alves’ pass was remarkable, no doubt about it, but the timing and the angle of Messi’s run also made it extremely hard to defend him and Alves.
Hincha tim, in a way, i agree with you. I’m not one of those that points to defensive errors when goals are scored. Indeed, i’ve gotten into arguments with people when the first thing out of their mouths after a goal is scored is that “it was the defender’s fault” or “the keeper’s” fault. I point out that sometimes no matter what you do or how well you play defense, sometimes it’s the goal-scorer’s fault.
Again, I take no issue with what Messi did AFTER he got the ball. But there is NO WAY he or any other forward should be left along 18 yards from goal. Messi’s magic was after he got the ball. That’s why you have to mark him better. His run on the 3rd goal was nothing special. He was standing at the 18.
You can imagine the film review session. Someone got their ass chewed and saying it was Messi is no excuse for piss-poor marking.
PS> what’s missing in this video link is Messi’s midfield-to-penalty-area-shot-off-the-crossbar play leading up to third goal…as somone has already mentioned.
@Pico: I completely laughed when you said Cristiano Ronaldo had the benefit of playing in a league that is more rudimentary. That is completely the opposite. Messi wouldn’t even be able to complete a month in the EPL.
I think Messi and CRonaldo are fairly even in terms of skill. One is a douche as a person, one is injury prone. I enjoy watching both. But to say that CRonaldo doesn’t work hard or gets a benefit from playing in a lesser skilled league is just ridiculous. Its easy to forget that he led the champions league is scoring last year, too.
I want to emphasize what Pico mentioned earlier: in the first goal, Dani Alves had an amazing pass. I am a huge fan of Messi, but I almost enjoy more the amazing Barca talent that is feeding great passes to the Argentinian scoring machine.
And the crazy thing is that Messi is not the scoring leader of neither La Liga nor Barcelona. That honor goes to another Barcelona player, Eto’o.
You’re right, of course. Sometimes there is just obviously blatent bad defending that any player can exploit. However, I didn’t see it in the case of Messi’s goals. They were little, ephemeral mistakes that Messi both created because of his skills and speed, that he recognized and then exploited. If an average player had been playing in his position against Atletico Madrid against the same players in the same situation, I don’t see those goals being scored.
you have to see the play before messi scored the third goal. He takes the ball from midfield past three or four defenders and rips a shot off the crossbar… the man is unreal…
i never understood the point of arguing who is better between two spectacular footballers like messi and c. ronaldo. thats like arguing if a 16 oz kobe beef filet mignon is better than a 4 pound south african lobster tail. you cant go wrong with either.
C. Ronaldo scored 42 goals last season in all competitions. Messi has 19 in all competitions so far (half way in the season ). If he continues like that, he’ll have both the european player of the year and Ballon D’or in lock. He might even surpass 42 goals.
He also had a great run, but unfortunately hit the top post. It was a run close to the goal he scored vs Getafe when he took it all the way from midfield. The “Missi”ah
the last goal looks offsides to me but i’ll give him the benefit of the doubt since i’m watching a hazy youtube video and it was a close call.
still a great player.
also kudos to hlncha tim for his insight.
He has to be the early favorite for the next Ballon d’Or.
I agree with you for the most part. But there’s defending, and then there’s what borders on the keystone cops.
Perfect example: Dempsey’s first goal against Chelsea. To call that particular set-piece defending “pathetic” would be an understatement. It was biblically bad.
You guys crack me up. If defenses did exactly what they were supposed to do, there wouldn’t be any goals scored. The best players create/recognize/exploit a small mistake or opening, which is what Messi did. That is what makes him great.
Tracking back on the first goal? He was trying to stop Messi from getting by him. With Messi’s acceleration he wouldn’t have been able to keep with him. That is what is so effective about a 1-2 pass. They are extremely difficult to defend.
Just to reiterate a couple of the comments before, it was awesome watching him in NY last summer, especially considering I was front row in packed giants stadium 🙂
And wow what a game that was for the US too, still can’t believe gooch’s header off the crossbar didn’t go in for the 1-0 victory.
What a performance! Tidy, not messy!
The issue with the third goal is that the whole line played to the offside. Unfortunately, the right fullback stayed behind enabling Messi’s incredible play.
As per the first goal, yes, the fullback should have kept tracking Messi, but then, everyone got duped by Dani Alves’ insane heel touch. As a matter of fact, the left center back was in position and almost intercepted the pass. But that is what happens when you try to defend the best players in the world.
I would take Messi over Ronaldo any day of the week.
Messi is and will always be better the CR7 now and in the future and I hope him and Barca win all trophys this year
Visca El Barca !
Messi is amazing! It was great to watch him live vs the USA last summer, he is really something…the best player in the world right now im my opinion.
Wow, horrible defending on his third goal.
dare we say it? Messi is en flames.
seriously though, how much fun is it to watch the best player in the world right now, in peak form, on the best team in the world? Barca is so good right now that it’s actually hard to tell if they are really that good or if everyone else has yet to actually put up a fight. it’s like watching a college team against a high school JayVee, are they that good, or is everyone else bad? shame we won’t find out for another UCL round or so.
I take nothing away from the finishes, both of which were superb (especially the 3rd goal.) However, the defending, particularly on the 3rd goal, was crap. On the first one, none of the defenders bothered to track Messi on the give-n-go..1-2 whatever you want to call it. left back of left mid seems the culprit. On the 3rd goal, how do you leave Messi alone at the 18? Again, the left mid seems to be marking a big green patch of space.
Messi is such a joy to watch. That third goal, the way he takes the ball in and moves around the keeper is unbelievable. His reactions, footwork, ball control, and ability to run with the ball are out of control. Hopefully he can keep it up this year, and win what he deserves.
Messi’s run before his third goal was amazing, running and evading defenders in the last third only to be negated by the crossbar.
I still believe Leo is a much better player because of the league he plays in, whereas CR gets the benefit against the rudimentary style of EPL.
lost in the Messi hype was exactly how good those two assists were. But yeah, Messi is a cool sort and his finishing is spot on right now.
Best player in the world. His work rate and vision are what puts him well above Ronaldo. The Atletico fans gave him a standing ovation when he was taken off.
Yesss Messi, show that dirt bag ronaldo who’s boss.
Who needs Messi? We’ve got Hejduk.
formidable!! the “Messi”ah is destined to become better than C Ronaldo. at least, thats what I wish plus he’s a real nice person. when he came to NY for the US game, he was the only player that cared about the fans that showed up at the hotel taking pics etc, very down to earth and humble