Barcelona / La Liga / Spain

Lionel Messi is a vampire wizard

Messi stretches his calves, quads, hammies, and wings (via fanpop.com)

Tell your kid to put away the Harry Potters and the Twilights – a better hero exists.

Twenty-two year old Barcelona forward Lionel Messi scored three goals on Sunday against Real Zarazoga, bringing his total for the past week to eight. It was the second straight league hat trick for the wizard, and he has leaped from fourth in scoring to first. Based upon his past two league games alone, Messi would be tied for 22nd in La Liga scoring. Additionally, his two Champions League goals in midweek gave him four in the tournament, tied for second.

Put simply, Messi cannot be stopped. And he has had every chance to fail. Each major step of Messi’s career has seen him exceed expectations while under amazing pressure. He moved to Spain with his parents when he was young hoping to get picked up by a club that would pay to treat his hormonal disorder. After a tryout, Barcelona bit. When he began getting starts for the first team, he was hailed as the heir apparent to two-time FIFA World Player of the Year Ronaldinho. The Brazilian was on top of the world in 2005-06, having led Barcelona to a Champions League trophy (insane side note: that year Ronaldinho had over 130 shots; only 29 of them were on goal. Of those 29, he scored on 25 of them.) When Ronaldinho was sold to AC Milan, Barca was clearly making room for Lionel Messi. And the Argentinian – then under 20 years of age – did not disappoint. In fact, he scored 42 goals in 54 games. In the summer of 2009, Cristiano Ronaldo moved to Real Madrid amid much fanfare. So far this season the Portugese star has 17 goals and 2 red cards. Messi has 22 goals and a clean conscience.

A quick overview of Messi’s otherworldly development:

  • 2007-08 league season: 10 goals in 23 games. 2008-09 season: 23 goals in 27 games. 2009-10 season: 22 goals in 20 games.
  • Of his 114 shots in 2008-09, 50 were on goal. Of his 108 shots thus far in 2009-10, 61 have been on goal
  • He was fouled 141 times in 54 total games in 2008-09. (At 2.6 fouls/game, that’s the exact same ratio as Cristiano Ronaldo)

Need more perspective? Messi is far and away the best player on a Barcelona team that features an 80 million pound striker, the MVP of Euro 2008, and the French National team’s captain.

But what truly sets Messi apart is the magical way he reaches these incredible heights. With only 6 yellow cards (0 red) last year, Messi carries none of the selfish, spoiled baggage that made Ronaldo expendable at Manchester United, or that made Barcelona feel it could part with Ronaldinho. Messi consistently turns in performances that stand out to even the most casual soccer fan.

To get you pumped up for the Union’s first season, here are videos of Messi’s goals from the past week. Let’s hope Danny Mwanga is watching:

Against Real Zarazoga:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hDKsTnK_h_U[/youtube]

Against Stuttgart:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ubClSjtLTC4[/youtube]

Against Valencia (announcer’s call after the first goal: “I don’t think that needs any commentary, it’s just there for you to enjoy it”):

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yU5c1Jqdz0I[/youtube]

2 Comments

  1. Ed Farnsworth says:

    I think Messi has 25 goals in La Liga, 34 in all competitions.

    You might enjoy this excerpt from a piece in today’Guardian entitled, “Man…Superman…Leo Messi”

    “In England too Ronaldo is invariably described as more complete than Messi – stronger, faster, bigger, more athletic. But aren’t they all part of the same package, an obsession with physical strength? Isn’t that a pretty incomplete reading of complete? Last season Messi scored twice as many Champions League goals with half as many shots. This season, Messi is the league’s top scorer with 10 more than Ronaldo, has provided more assists than anyone else (Ronaldo is not in the top 20) and has completed more passes than any other attacker. He hasn’t even taken any penalties.”

    • On a recent Champions League group chat on ESPN Soccernet, they polled about who's better, Rooney or Messi. My gut said Messi, but people made good arguments about Rooney being "more complete" than Messi, what with the constant running back to defend–Rooney's famous for ending up in the fullback position, such is his desire and committment–but I don't think anyone could possibly argue, at this point, that Messi isn't the best in the worlld right now. With the ball at his feet, he is as close to unstoppable as anyone can be, and yet he is exceedingly unselfish. It's just amazing, and he's only 22.

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