Football = art = entertainment, argues our La Liga expert, Jason Pettigrove.
When played in its purest form, the beautiful game elevates us to another place entirely but sadly for the majority, such instances are rare.For supporters of FC Barcelona however, the last few years have been akin to watching the finest brush strokes of an artist with Lionel Messi Barca’s very own Picasso.
One minute a soft, tender caress of the football followed by the rapier movements of an assassin. A Blaugrana wrecking ball wrapped in a blanket of exquisite finesse.
Just how do you stop him and his band of brothers?
Celta Vigo were the latest in a long line and whilst they kept the game interesting until the last 20 minutes or so, they were completely undone by the Argentinian’s trickery and close control, and that of Neymar and Luis Suarez.
A smorgasbord of skill and top-class finishing.
One moment in the match stood out above all others. A moment that will rightly be talked about for years. No, it wasn’t Messi’s outrageous 25-yard postage stamp free kick, nor was it Neymar’s rainbow flick even if that was a little bit special.
It wasn’t even Luis Suarez’s first time half-volley on the half-turn, a quite astonishing finish from a striker at the very top of his game.
The two-touch penalty is just about the rarest move to even be attempted on a football pitch. Indeed you can count the recorded incidents on the fingers of one hand. Perhaps the most famous example before this past weekend was Johan Cruyff’s goal against Helmond Sport in 1982, a move co-ordinated with Jesper Olsen.
Call it impudence. Call it distasteful and disrespectful. Or call it as it really is – genius.
After the 6-1 win, Barcelona boss Luis Enrique accepted: “Some will like it, some won’t.”
In such a high pressure game, to have the confidence to even attempt the same is a brave enough move. To execute it is what sets Messi apart. Let’s not forget that had the Argentinian scored, it would’ve been his 300th La Liga goal for the Catalans. A not inconsequential mark it must be said.
Instead, a short tap to the side allowed “El Pistolero” Suarez to complete another hat-trick, his seventh of a fledgling Barca career.
In the celebrations that followed it was clear that Messi enjoyed it as much as scoring it himself, and it was his name that rang around Camp Nou. A player that continues to re-write the script, this was yet another stellar moment to add to an extensive highlights reel.
In the context of what turned out to be an incredible match from Barca’s front three, such a simple act has rightly been the one to grab headlines worldwide.
Such moments only come along once in a generation and they need to be celebrated as the pure art form that they are. Not derided as conduct that is objectionable or in someway repugnant.
Was David Beckham’s halfway line goal nauseating? Did Roberto Carlos’ banana free kick leave a vulgar taste in the mouth? Can Rene Higuita’s “scorpion kick” ever be considered as unpleasant?
No, of course not.
All were moments of magic. Moments of utter brilliance. Moments to be savoured.
In the rich tapestry that Lionel Messi has woven throughout his career so far, that six-yard pass from the penalty spot will help define his greatness for future generations of football fans.
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