Barcelona and Argentine superstar Lionel Messi, regarded as the best footballer of his generation, has broken 40-year-old record for the highest number of goals scored in a calendar year.
Gerd Muller’s record of 85 goals in 1972 was finally broken by the Barca talisman who netted a brace in his side’s 2-1 victory of Real Betis on Sunday evening, and he added to it against Cordoba in the Copa del Rey last night taking his tally to 88... But which of his goals in 2012 is his best work?
My personal favourite is his goal scored against RCD Mallorca pretty much direct from a throw-in.
Messi takes the throw from the sidelines, darts in-field, exchanges a two-one with Xavi, receives the ball back, dips his shoulder, careers around the first man, swaggers right into the path of two more hopeless defenders, then turns, leaving them both for dead, and before the last man can even get within range of him, he looks up, and slots it left of the keeper from just outside his six-yard box.
From a throw-in he took, within less than 20 seconds the ball’s in the back of net and the opposition players just stand there scratching their heads, looking at each other all gormlessly.
The reason I love this goal so much is the way he slows his pace and then accelerates. He makes the defenders think he’s just wandering aimlessly with ball. He disguises his intentions and movement with his eyes – bluffing his direction and then instantly turning into the space.
He lulls the opposition into a false sense of security – he’s like a crook in bad movie, his body language on the ball and the meandering pace is so deceiving. It’s not just his skill and technique, or his movement without the ball that makes him so dangerous – above all he’s so sly. He manipulates the opposition the way a magician does an audience – it’s all misdirection.
For the same reasons as above, I’m going award the ‘best’ title, despite the former being my favorite, to his goal against Athletic Bilbao. It has all the ingredients of the throw-in goal, except this is far more spectacular from a neutral perspective and the finish is so precise and constructed, it’s perfect.
He manages to draw three opposition defenders on to him, and drags them all along with him as he strides into the penalty area, then he just lifts his head up, doesn’t even bother to angle his body towards goal, he just tucks it into the bottom right corner with his left foot. He knows he’s scored as soon as the ball leaves his feet – he doesn’t even bother to watch it go in, such is his confidence in his craft.
In my lifetime he is the greatest ever player of the game – comparisons to Pele, Maradona, and Cryuff are all worthy. Records aside, his ability far exceeds any other player, including Cristiano Ronaldo is unlucky to have been born in the same decade as the greatest player of his generation.
You can watch both the goals in this compilation clip:
Which is your favourite Messi goal of 2012?
image: © prettyfriendship