Saturday, 6 June 2015

Why FC Barcelona ace Lionel Messi is the best player of all time

Why FC Barcelona ace Lionel Messi is the best player of all time
Lionel Messi (credit: Getty Images)
A definitive answer may now be emerging to a question that has polarised football fans for the last few years – who is better, Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo?
This is the best football ever, football scores shouldn`t matter the style is more important
I was discussing the subject with a friend over a pint last summer. At the time, I could not pick one superstar over the other and remember saying they were neck and neck in the race to go down as football’s greatest ever player, which surely one of them will.

But recently, just like in a famous horse racing duel where neither combatant wants to give an inch, one of them finally appears to be nosing ahead – and that’s Messi.
watching Messi is like watching fantasy football
People will point to the little Argentinian’s fabulous performance in the Champions League semi-final first leg against Bayern Munich as the moment when he elevated himself above his arch-rival.

Messi scored two goals late in the second half just when Bayern, coached by former Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola, were starting to think they would be going home for the second leg all square. Instead, they are 3-0 down..

The second goal in particular was sublime, Messi collecting a pass just outside the penalty area, dancing past a challenge from Jerome Boateng and then chipping the world’s best goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.

“He’s put Boateng in a terrible place…on his backside,” was the analysis from an audibly awestruck Sky Sports co-commentator Gary Neville, referencing the way Messi had embarrassed a World Cup-winning defender.
Messi had embarrassed Boateng a World Cup-winning defender
Messi vs. Boateng
In fairness to Boateng, he and his Germany colleagues had thwarted Messi in last summer’s World Cup Final, the biggest game on the planet. But anyone who thought that signalled a potential decline in the effectiveness of the four-time Ballon d’Or winner has been made to eat their words.

It has not been a season without controversy for Messi. There has been talk of a fall-out with Barca coach Luis Enrique, his tax affairs have made the headlines, he appears to have developed a penchant for visiting casinos and suggested he could be up for joining a different club.

However, right when it matters most, he is raising his game to yet another level as Barcelona close in on a treble of Champions League, La Liga and Copa del Rey, and mesmerising football fans everywhere who simply love what he brings to the table.

Compare this to Ronaldo. Yes, the Real Madrid talisman is still scoring heaps of goals, his 56 for the campaign being three ahead of Messi’s tally just now.

Yet it should be remembered football is a team game, XI v XI, and there remains too much of the ‘big I am’ about Ronaldo who has shown signs recently of being peeved, even disgusted, when a team-mate scores instead of him.

Messi, in contrast, would happily throw the ball to a colleague to take a penalty if they were closer to a hat-trick than he was.

On a one-off basis, the Portuguese star is more capable of the extraordinary, e.g. a spectacular goal, free-kick or single-game haul such as the five he scored against Granada.

There are magnificent individual moments from Messi too, but what swings it for him in the head-to-head is his consistency – he is brilliant pretty much every week, whereas dips in form are more common for Ronaldo.

And, don’t forget, Messi is three years younger, so any records Ronaldo sets are likely to be eclipsed if fitness allows.

Between them, this remarkable duo have transformed the face of football and their rivalry is a good thing, even if it’s not easy to work out which one has the edge.

Yet it looks as though Messi is now a short head in front – not only as the best player in the current era, but of all time.