Wednesday 7 April 2010
After watching Barcelona beat Arsenal last night in the Champions League, I reckon I could watch Barca and Lionel Messi play all day long.
Messi's performance last night was incredible. If he carries on like this there's no doubt he'll become one of football's true greats, but he's not quite there yet.
There's no argument that Messi is the best player in the world at the moment, and he's already won countless titles with Barcelona and individual player of the year awards, but before he can be considered one of the true greats he has to leave his mark on a World Cup. He's only 22 so he's got plenty of time to do so.
In all my 25 years of watching football he's the best dribbler of the ball I've seen since Diego Maradona. I love Maradona, despite his 'hand of god' goal against England but I still think Messi has a lot to do before matching Maradona's achievements.
Maradona, single handidly won a World Cup by himself for Argentina, as well as leading his club side Napoli to two Italian League titles, a level of success the club had never seen before, and probably will never achieve again.
Messi is lucky to play in a truly brilliant Barcelona side. Their performance against Arsenal in the first half of the first leg was breathtaking. What stood out for me was the confidence on the ball that every player had.
No matter what position on the field their players receive the ball, they all have confidence in themselves and their team mates that they won't lose possession. Not only is it a supremely confident way of playing but it's also quite brave as well.
On the other side of the coin, Barca's work rate off the ball was amazing, the way that when they lost possession they harried and pressured the Arsenal players and quickly won the ball back. It shows they're not afraid to do the unglamourous stuff was well.
After Messi's performances for Barcelona this season, I'm definitely going to put some money down on Argentina winning the World Cup this summer.
They had a terrible World Cup campaign, and to be fair Maradona hasn't really found the right formation to get the best out of Messi, but Argentina still have some outstanding players, and with Messi as the jewel in the crown they can't be discounted, despite Maradona's eccentric managerial style.
You probably won't get great odds on Barcelona winning the Champions League, they must be every neutral fans favourite, but get your money on Argentina for the World Cup. They must be strong contenders after Brazil and Spain when you have Messi playing so well.