El Clasico: 5 best Lionel Messi performances
Because Messi is fast, nimble-footed, clinical in front of goal, and with otherworldly vision, hundreds of millions of football fans consider him to be the greatest of all time. The fact that he always dribbles past opponents at will and usually requires between three to five players for teams to negate his strengths lend serious weight to their high opinion of Messi.
However, the consistency with which Messi dazzles viewers and blows spectators’ minds is the main reason he’s considered to be better than Maradona, Zidane, Di Stefano, Ronaldinho, Ronaldo De Lima, and the likes – after all, each of these legends never spent over a decade dominating world football.
Still, on the issue of dominating football, the Spanish teams are undebatably the best in the world. Evidently, their hegemony reflects in the fact that Spanish teams (Barcelona and Real Madrid) have won the last four Champions League trophies, and their players (Ronaldo and Messi) have now scooped up nine consecutive Ballon d’Or awards (Ronaldo was at Manchester United when he won his first Ballon d’Or accolade).
As a result, El Clasico is the biggest rivalry and the most anticipated domestic match in world football. However, out of all the stars to have participated in El Clasico matches, Messi (the all-time El Clasico record goalscorer) is undeniably the best.
Interestingly though, even the best players have matches which made the world recognise them as the most exceptional talents of the beautiful game. So, since Messi is an all-time great, let’s assess his top five El Clasico performances.
#5 Real Madrid 0-2 Barcelona - 27 April 2011
Real Madrid crushed Tottenham 5-0 on aggregate in the quarterfinals of the 2010/2011 Champions League, while Barcelona routed Shakhtar Donetsk 6-1 over two legs. Fortunately for the neutrals, Real Madrid and Barcelona were drawn together in that season’s Champions League semifinals. However, it was the Catalans who prevailed.
Indeed, Jose Mourinho set up his Real Madrid team to defend deep and play ugly; he even had Pepe man-mark Lionel Messi. That decision mattered not as Messi silenced the Bernabeu with a fabulous brace to ensure Barcelona returned to Camp Nou with a victory.
The Messi moments
1. Messi’s first goal arrived after Pepe had received a straight red for a dangerous lunge on Dani Alves. Ibrahim Afellay skipped past Marcelo to send a teasing cross into the six-yard box which was met by Messi who put the ball though Casillas’s legs to give Barcelona a one-nil lead.
2. Messi’s second of the night was miles better than his first. The Argentine collected a Busquets’s lay-off inside the Real Madrid half, just two metres ahead of the centre circle. As soon as Messi picked up the ball, he fearlessly ran at the Madrid defence, leaving Lassana Diarra, Xabi Alonso, Sergio Ramos, Raul Albiol, and Marcelo in his wake.
Messi proceeded to roll the ball with his right boot past Casillas, therefore, giving Barcelona a healthy advantage to take back to Camp Nou. That goal was his 11th in 11 Champions League matches of the 2010/2011 season.
Commentator’s Messi praise
Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. How good is he? A mere supernatural goal from Lionel Messi. He has wriggled and tip-toed his way to the gates of Wembley Stadium. He is just brilliant. Best player in the world bar none.
Look at the pace, the touch, the control and then the finish which is absolutely perfect.