Prior to 2011, I knew nothing about football. I always thought of it as 22 men running after a ball madly. Faking injuries. Diving. Striving for penalties rather than scoring. And, I thought it as an artless game.
Then I got Xbox.
After some shooting games, came EA’s FIFA. With Messi on cover, I started playing online with ‘Barcelona’; which became a bad habit. I was addicted to online FIFA for years on Xbox. Mind you, I was a very good competitor.
With Xbox came curiosity for the real game and La Liga.
That transformed into actual love for FC Barcelona. La Liga. UEFA. Tiki Taka. And everything of Barcelona. Puyol, Xavi, Iniesta, Dani Alves, Alba, Mascherano, Busquets, Pique, Villa, Valdes, Neymar, Suarez, and Messi. From Pep Guardiola to Tito Vilanova to Luis Enrique.
While watching his games in evenings, nights, and late-late nights; I fell in love with him. With Messi, Barcelona won everything. All the titles. Big fishes from all the other leagues were caught and ripped apart. They became undefeatable.
And then came Messi vs. Ronaldo rivalry. A treat to watch. Two giants in two rival clubs, Barcelona and Real Madrid. El Clasicos became another treat to watch. I used to wait for El Clasicos as kids waiting for Eid.
Being a huge fan of Messi, I don’t hate Ronaldo. Both are aces. And we are lucky to watch these two live in our lives. But comparing two, Messi is centuries ahead of him. Ronaldo is a goal scorer only. Messi assists goals as many as he scores. He makes the game. he dribbles around half line and dribbles inside the box. Messi is an artist of his own kind and there is none who can be compared to him.
On head to head statistics – mostly in El Clasicos – Messi and Ronaldo has the following numbers:
Number of games: 35
Wins: Messi 16; Ronaldo 10
Goals: Messi 22; Ronaldo 19
Assists: Messi 12; Ronaldo 1
A lot of memorable games. 2-1 win against Manchester United in 20
10-11 in Champions League final.
4-0 win against Real Madrid in 2015.
6-1 historic comeback in 2nd leg against PSG.
5-1 against Real Madrid in 2018.
92nd minute goal by Messi against Real Madrid and that infamous “shirt celebration” so that Bernabeu may never forget him (picture of this post).
And they will not.
Messi has paid back Barcelona more than they invested on his health and insurance.
672 goals. 288 assists for Barcelona. 10 La Liga. 4 Champions League. 7 Copa Del Rey 3 Club World Cup. 6 Ballon d’Or. 6 European Golden Shoe. No one else has these numbers. No one.
And with that, adios to Spain with a disappointing season of 2020-21. With the humiliating defeat from Bayern, and poor management since Luis Enrique’s departure, it was bound to fall this hard.
Other than World Cup 2014’s final, this is heartbreaking. Barcelona and La Liga won’t be the same without him.
But a new beginning is here. In pursuit of art, I will follow the artist wherever he will move.
I hope it would be Manchester City as Pep Guardiola is there. And with that, there will be something new to look for. English commentary. English crowd. And Lionel Messi. Another Golden Boot? UEFA title? Ballon d’Or? Shirt celebration in Manchester? Who knows.
Ending this with a British blogger who was once driven to question whether Messi was better at football than anyone else had ever been at anything else. In this view, Messi’s true competitors are Mozart, Napoleon, and Da Vinci.