Messi plat du jour yet again
“We are all so blessed to get to watch Lionel Messi play every week”. This is a statement that I am almost forced to repeat week in and week out. It’s very similar to that of a LeBron James. For writers, it is a pleasure to talk about these generational talents. Every week is a new chance to attempt to describe the almost extraterrestrial- like skill we get to witness every single time they both lace up their shoes. Tonight was merely another example that Messi is playing a different game than the rest of us, as he lit up the Camp Nou with another vintage Champions League performance.“
Messi is now the fastest to 100 UEFA Champions League goals after a two-goal display against Chelsea in the second leg of their Round of 16 fixture. The Argentinian forward scored his 99th goal within the first three minutes of the competition; a nearly impossible goal with his right foot through the legs of Courtois. No manners from Lionel, as he seems to keep inventing new ways to disgrace goalkeepers. Even though it may have appeared a fortunate goal, I have believed for a while now that Messi is so inhuman, that the concept of luck is foreign to him. I remember the exact date when he convinced me that even his most fortunate looking piece of skill was executed intentionally, almost as if to prove he could do it. It was 16 January 2014, where, after dribbling around a set of defenders, then passed it forward into the box in front of him. I could have sworn he was giving a through ball to Cristian Tello. Rather it was to himself, before rounding the keeper and slotting it home, giving Barcelona its second goal of the game that evening, which you can relive for yourself here.
I think that his best and most vintage moment during the second leg against Chelsea came 19 minutes and 29 seconds in when Messi jumped on a mistake from Fabregas in midfield before quickly exing out two Chelsea defenders then continuing on to set up Barcelona’s second of the night through Dembele. That burst that he showed to shift the ball once around Christiansen, and then a second time around Azpilicueta, before he found himself in Chelsea’s eighteen-yard box assisting Dembele. I honestly haven’t seen this burst every week in La Liga this season. Not because he is declining physically, but rather it seems most of the time, his game is now at a level where he doesn’t need to hit top gear to impose his will on matches.
Ray Hudson’s muse rounded out the goals, with another vintage left-footed finish, yet again megging the Belgian shot-stopper and scoring his 100th goal in Europe’s top competition. He now joins Cristiano Ronaldo as the only other player to achieve this feat. Chelsea never stood a chance tonight, and I’m sure Conte found his own way to communicate that to his men post-match.