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The Mozart of Football
March 8, 2012 3:13 PM   Subscribe

Lionel Messi is the first player to score 5 goals in a Champions League match as Barcelona demolished Bayer Leverkusen 7-1. Comparsions with Mardaonna and Pele abound. Like Mozart, Messi at 5 years [YouTube, Spanish] old was better than most.
posted by vac2003 (65 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
I suppose I'll just leave this here, because it makes me smile.
posted by pompomtom at 3:18 PM on March 8, 2012 [30 favorites]


You know what I think of divers in football? Assholes. Hate the motherfuckers. Every last one of them. It's an admission by the player that he isn't good enough to win, so he has to cheat. And then when they say they have to cheat because everyone else does, I say, "Oh, yeah, motherfucker. THEN WHAT ABOUT MESSI?"
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:26 PM on March 8, 2012 [7 favorites]


pompomtom beat me to it.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:31 PM on March 8, 2012


Man, he plays football like people play billiards.
posted by dhruva at 3:34 PM on March 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I suppose I'll just leave this here, because it makes me smile.
posted by pompomtom at 3:18 PM on March 8


Oh hello goosebumps and joy.
posted by basicchannel at 3:37 PM on March 8, 2012


This is pretty amazing. Even as a youngster he seemed to have the same flair for the net.
posted by Meatafoecure at 3:49 PM on March 8, 2012


I love how Messi demonstrates football is a team sport. He is top of the world with Barcelona, yet even he cannot inspire a below-average (for their standards) Argentina side.
posted by ersatz at 3:54 PM on March 8, 2012


You know what I think of divers in football? Assholes. Hate the motherfuckers. Every last one of them. It's an admission by the player that he isn't good enough to win, so he has to cheat. And then when they say they have to cheat because everyone else does, I say, "Oh, yeah, motherfucker. THEN WHAT ABOUT MESSI?"

Nope. In the video linked above your post, Messi by all rights should've "dived" at least a few times. Just because you can stay on your feet after you've been fouled doesn't mean that it puts your team in an advantageous position to let the other team kick, hit, and push you and continue to play. When a player is fouled, they've been given the choice to fall and take a free kick or not. IMO it's messed up to tell players that they shouldn't take advantage of being hit by someone else.

That said, diving on non-fouls on the off chance that the refs will make a mistake is fucked up, but that's a ref/replay problem. Ideally you'd have after-game reviews where obvious dives get retroactively carded.
posted by TypographicalError at 4:10 PM on March 8, 2012


the amount of body control and balance required to run through some of those tackles and maintain the ball is just.not.human
posted by JPD at 4:13 PM on March 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I look forward to the 2034 MLS season when Messi leads the LA Galaxy to an undefeated season.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:18 PM on March 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


In the video linked above your post, Messi by all rights should've "dived" at least a few times. Just because you can stay on your feet after you've been fouled doesn't mean that it puts your team in an advantageous position to let the other team kick, hit, and push you and continue to play.

Jason Kottke made an excellent point about that, actually --- he pointed out that players get fouled like that when they have beaten the defender and have the advantage. An unlike in basketball, unless you have an exceptionally talented free kicker on your team, a free kick is far from a sure thing. So actually it often makes more sense to stay on your feet and press ahead --- you are likely to get a better scoring opportunity by continuing to play than by taking a set shot with 22 guys in the box.
posted by Diablevert at 4:19 PM on March 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


He's only 24! And he's what, 8 goals away from hitting Barcelona's all-time highest scoring record? I wouldn't be surprised if he passed that in his next two games.
posted by stennieville at 4:21 PM on March 8, 2012


How about refs just call fouls even when people don't dive?
posted by Threeway Handshake at 4:22 PM on March 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


they do in theory. They call advantage
posted by JPD at 4:25 PM on March 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


So actually it often makes more sense to stay on your feet and press ahead

Precisely.

If you go back for the kick, you're allowing the defence to get themselves sorted out. There are certainly times it makes sense to claim the free (and I think there are a couple of examples in that compilation) - but you have to account for the loss of momentum.
posted by pompomtom at 4:30 PM on March 8, 2012


Just because you can stay on your feet after you've been fouled doesn't mean that it puts your team in an advantageous position to let the other team kick, hit, and push you and continue to play.

It does if you are Lionel Messi. (or what Diablevert)

How about refs just call fouls even when people don't dive?

Again, if you watch him play, it's hard not to say he's got advantage, even when he's falling down.

I think saying he *never* dives is a bunch of hooey though.
posted by mrgrimm at 4:36 PM on March 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Here is a great recap of the 7-1 match, with video of all the goals.
posted by mrgrimm at 4:39 PM on March 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also, Lionel Messi's 222 Goals for Barcelona in 13 Minutes - just a few short now. ;)
posted by mrgrimm at 4:39 PM on March 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Messi is an interesting character here in Argentina. Whilst he could never be said to be unloved, his name adorns plenty of replica shirts in the streets of Buenos Aires, there is a feeling that he has not proved himself here and therefore lacks a certain passion when playing for the national team and a lack of charisma off the pitch.

He left Argentina aged 13 to train with Barcelona so has never played for a domestic team. Most Argentine greats serve their time in the domestic league before heading off to the real money in Europe - this gives them a ready-made group of fans in Argentina. Having never played for Boca Juniors or River Plate, Messi doesn't have this and therefore will always been seen with suspicion by a portion of the population.

This, of course, would change if Argentina won the World Cup with Messi in 2014. All would be forgiven in a heartbeat...

[YouTube, Spanish]

Awfully pedantic I know but it's Portugese.

posted by jontyjago at 4:55 PM on March 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Awfully pedantic I know but it's Portugese.

Sorry, my bad. Best guess I'm afraid.
posted by vac2003 at 5:00 PM on March 8, 2012


Not to diminish what an incredible player he is, but Leverkusen looked pretty flat in that game. But jesus yes he's great. Always total focus on moving the ball where he wants it to go, and he doesn't ever seem to have any nerves about it at all. Just confidence, crazy drive, and utter skill. There's no doubt he's the best.
posted by Red Loop at 5:12 PM on March 8, 2012


The 'Messi never dives' compilation is astonishing -- a far more impressive demonstration of Messi's talent than any check-out-these-fabu-goals compilation. He makes flagrant-fouling defenders look like thuggish morons. He's...ridiculous. And the fact that he does all this without the dribbling theatrics of (e.g.) Ronaldinho -- without what I'd call flash -- just makes his effectiveness seem even more like the result of some well-chosen devil's pact.

My dad is a 78-year-old diehard Manchester United fan, of the old sort who still refer to 'Munich' without feeling any need to elaborate. The highest praise he'll give a player is just this: 'He's a footballer, Wall.' He always said it of Rooney in particular, whom he dearly loves.

Messi is a footballer.
posted by waxbanks at 5:13 PM on March 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


There's no doubt he's the best.

Of all time? Better than Maradona?!?!
posted by mrgrimm at 5:15 PM on March 8, 2012


While watching this game, mr.likeso turned to me and said laughingly but proudly "He's on my team, you know." I replied that yes, I knew, I remember how happy he was when he could afford him last weekend.

(mr.likeso has recently become addicted to Dream League Soccer.)
posted by likeso at 5:20 PM on March 8, 2012


Of all time? Better than Maradona?!?!

Nah. Messi may be better than Maradona at football, but Maradona has the whole dual-sport thing that Messi simply cannot do.
posted by The World Famous at 5:26 PM on March 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Better than Maradona?!?!

Sure.
posted by asterix at 5:42 PM on March 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


And another article making the argument.
posted by asterix at 5:44 PM on March 8, 2012


Messi!!

That is all.

*awaits next World Cup*
posted by languagehat at 6:17 PM on March 8, 2012


I think the key about Messi not falling after being flagrantly fouled is when it happens in the box and he's giving up a certain penalty kick for a less certain regular chance at a goal. So yeah, when in the box, he should be more willing to fall to the ground.

Having said that, the fact that he always plays through the fouls is one of the reasons so many fans respect him as a classy footballer. And it's part of why Barcelona is perhaps the most popular club in the world right now. They exude class on the pitch (no idea what they're like off it) and fans eat it up.

As for his performance with Argentina, I've always felt that international football (World Cup) is more of a spectacle. A really fun and exciting one with some great and memorable moments, but ultimately it's what happens at the club level (including especially the Champions League) that's most important. I'd love to see Argentina make a good run at the WC but in the end it's Messi's successes with Barcelona that matter most.
posted by bfootdav at 6:17 PM on March 8, 2012


mrgrimm: "There's no doubt he's the best.

Of all time? Better than Maradona?!?
"

Well, he's only 24. We'll see. He's the best right now.
posted by Red Loop at 6:26 PM on March 8, 2012


I was in the hospital for a week in 2006. The hospital is never fun, but I was lucky enough to have the best of all possible weeks; the opening round of the World Cup. I watched 8 hours a day of coverage for over a week and managed to see maybe 25 games. The only one that stuck with me was Argentina's 6-0 drubbing of Serbia. And the main thing I remember was watching an 18-year old Messi and just thinking "holy shit, who is this kid?". He just played like a monster; he undressed about half a dozen Serbs, then set up Crespo in front of a totally empty net, then followed it up with a blistering goal of his own. It was a great day for the entire Argentine side, but Messi was the clear standout, and he's the one I still remember.

Just looked the game up on Wikipedia, and he was a 75th minute substitute. He only played fifteen minutes.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 8:39 PM on March 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


I've been trying to explain to the (completely American) wife what it's like to watch Messi and Barcelona and why I keep playing hooky in the middle of the day to watch them on the internet. The best I can come up with is that it's like they're playing quiddich (sp?) and the other side is bound by the laws of physics and is stuck playing soccer (told you they were American).
posted by TheShadowKnows at 8:42 PM on March 8, 2012


Here is a great recap of the 7-1 match, with video of all the goals.

Ah, thanks mrgrimm -- I hadn't had a chance to see the footage yet, was just in awe at the descriptions. :)
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:23 PM on March 8, 2012


You should fall if you've actually been knocked off your feet. If you're falling on purpose, you're a dick. Get up and play the game.
posted by pracowity at 9:58 PM on March 8, 2012


Messi is simply the absolute best parts of football personified. Potentially the best of all time, and quite likely the best there'll be in my lifetime.


Also, he is insanely fun times to play as in FIFA12, I end up amusing myself so much by running circles around defenders in the 18' box that my friend has to remind me to actually shoot
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 10:05 PM on March 8, 2012


This "best player ever" thing is tricky. The game has changed over the years, it has gotten faster, training methods and players diets are better, the way you qualify from a group has changed in some cases (from straight goal difference to a comparison of the matches between the teams on level points*), so it is difficult to say who is the best ever.

Pele - was 17, won world cup with Brazil, lit up the place, was in a team with people like Garrincha et al.

Maradona - practically single-handedly won WC with Argentina in 1986 (excuse the pun).

Messi - not won a world cup. Is, as mentioned upthread, practically a Spanish creation.

In terms of technique, right now, Messi is the king. If Argentina could win a WC then maybe he could be the best ever. (If Maradona hadn't fallen out with Juan Román Riquelme then maybe they would have done slightly better at WC2010. Maybe.)
posted by marienbad at 1:08 AM on March 9, 2012


Maradona - practically single-handedly won WC with Argentina in 1986 (excuse the pun).

Somewhat literally ; ).

But what people like about Messi is not just his skill, but his attitude. I mean see the argument above about whether he should go down in tackles or not. Players from the Latin world tend to get unfairly painted with the 'diver' brush, particularly in the anglosphere, but no one would dare accuse him of such a thing. The guy is both the footballer's footballer, and the fan favourite - it doesn't get much better than this.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 2:51 AM on March 9, 2012


And the fact that he does all this without the dribbling theatrics of (e.g.) Ronaldinho -- without what I'd call flash -- waxbanks

You have just said what I could not put my finger on. Messi does not in some ways look as obviously spectacular as Maradona or Ronaldo, he lacks the 'flash'. Based on what we can tell about him he doesn't so much lack flash as he doesn't include it in him game as it is unnecessary, is not in keeping with a pure team-ethic and would not be classy.
posted by therubettes at 4:00 AM on March 9, 2012


Speaking of class, serious question. Winning 7-1 and particularly having the world's best player still pour it on when the game was completely out of reach struck me as questionable, but I'm not sure if that's my lack of familiarity with european football culture. Did this make more seasoned fans wince, and I'd not, why?
posted by TheShadowKnows at 6:49 AM on March 9, 2012


Lionel Messi is the first player to score 5 goals in a Champions League match ...
Well, yes, if you only look at Champions League since 1992 when they renamed the European Cup. If you on the other hand don't think the most prestigious European tournament becomes a new tournament just because some marketing droid suggests a name change, it has been done ten times before: posted by brokkr at 7:04 AM on March 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


Don't wait for the next world cup to watch and follow football, languagehat. Club football is much better because the players train together more often.

We are discussing Messi's 5-goal game, etc on SportsFilter too, BTW.
posted by terrapin at 7:31 AM on March 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Speaking of class, serious question. Winning 7-1 and particularly having the world's best player still pour it on when the game was completely out of reach struck me as questionable, but I'm not sure if that's my lack of familiarity with european football culture. Did this make more seasoned fans wince, and I'd not, why?

In football (soccer), easing up on the opponent is considered disrespectful ... most likely it's a cultural consequence of the fact that goal differential is usually the first tiebreaker ... wiki
posted by beukeboom at 7:31 AM on March 9, 2012


Speaking of class, serious question. Winning 7-1 and particularly having the world's best player still pour it on when the game was completely out of reach struck me as questionable, but I'm not sure if that's my lack of familiarity with european football culture. Did this make more seasoned fans wince, and I'd not, why? -- TheShadowKnows

This is a multi-layered question and my response is going to go long but hopefully it'll be interesting (i.e., worth the volume of words).

Before answering the question directly let's look at football in general as played in most parts of the world (excluding the US). League play (like the English Premiere League and La Liga (in Spain)) is done by having each team play each other team twice (once home; once away) with the teams scoring 3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw, and 0 points for a loss. At the end of the season the team with the most points wins the championship. There is no playoff or end-of-season tournament. If teams are tied then you go to the tiebreaks. The specific order varies somewhat between countries but one of the first (if not the first) is goal differential which is, simply, goals scored by the team minus goals allowed. So if several teams are tied they get ranked by whoever has the best goal differential.

It's rare that a league championship is determined by a tiebreak. But given that Champions League qualification, Europa League qualification, and relegation possibilities exist then these tiebreaks can and do happen. What this means is that during a season it is in a team's best interests to score as many goals as they can (and give up as few as possible) just in case there's a tiebreak with goal differential being the determining factor.

OK, but we're talking about the Champions League which is run a little different. In the early rounds you have "group play" in which (like with the World Cup) you have teams in groups and they play each other twice. Because the groups are small ties are possible and once again goal differential becomes a potential tiebreak. Again, this means that it's in a team's best interest to score a lot of goals.

OK, but we're not talking about group play in this case. After group play finishes the remaining teams are paired off and play two games, home and away. The team who advances is the one with the best aggregate score (e.g., Team A wins the first game 2-0 but Team B wins the second 4-1, Team B would advance with an aggregate score of 4-3). What this means is that in the first leg teams want to score as many points as possible making it much more likely that they'll advance. If you can win the first game 10-0 then you don't have to try as hard and can rest some of your star players knowing that it's unlikely the other team will outscore you on aggregate.

OK, but that's not what happened here. In the case of Barcelona v. Bayern Leverkusen, Barca won the first leg 3-1. That's a pretty good score and given Barca's quality pretty much assured that they would advance. Obviously things can and do go wrong and you don't want to risk losing in that situation (imagine the scandal if the best team in the world were to lose in the quarterfinals when being up 3-1 aggregate!) so you'll still put your best team on the pitch.

OK, now we're getting closer. But why, you might ask, after Barca was up 3-0 (6-1 aggregate) did they keep pouring it on when there was basically no chance of losing and the goal differential was no longer a realistic issue? Because of the substitution rules in football. In football each side is only allowed three substitutions in a match, period. Even if a player is horribly injured but you've used up your three substitutions you cannot replace that player. The player can come off the pitch but now you'd be down to ten players. This is true even if the player is the goalkeeper. In that case another player already on the pitch would have to take over that position.

Hopefully you can see where this is headed. In American sports like football or basketball, when a team establishes a huge lead (and goal differential is not factor in American sports) that team will freely substitute in second and third string players and as long as those players don't give up the lead then the starters might not play again during that game. The reasons are practical: avoiding injury and giving players a rest. But imagine if American football and basketball only allowed three substitutions in a game then this would mean that most/many of your best players would remain on the field/court for the entire game. When the players are out there they are not going to start playing badly just because they have a big lead, they are going to continue to play at a high level (maybe at like 90% effort at worst) which means, since they are presumably better than the other team, they will continue to score and the final score will look like it did in this case.

Messi is a young guy without any injury problems. I haven't checked to see which players Barcelona substituted out but I'd bet it was the older guys and those with nagging injuries. This means that the best player in the world, Messi, was left on the pitch and he did the only thing he knows how to do which is kick ass and score goals.
posted by bfootdav at 7:57 AM on March 9, 2012 [7 favorites]


having the world's best player still pour it on when the game was completely out of reach

tl;dr - you only get 3 subs. ;)

if you read the recap i posted above, they used all 3 subs early in the second half.

This "best player ever" thing is tricky.

Tell me about it. Make it "most valuable player" ever and it becomes every trickier--I'd take Dennis Bergkamp in his prime over any of them.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:27 AM on March 9, 2012


Man, he plays football like people play billiards.

He plays football like masters play chess...only at high speed.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:09 AM on March 9, 2012


We are discussing Messi's 5-goal game, etc on SportsFilter too, BTW.

TIL about SportsFilter! :D
posted by Celsius1414 at 10:56 AM on March 9, 2012


You should fall if you've actually been knocked off your feet. If you're falling on purpose, you're a dick. Get up and play the game.

The amazing thing about Messi not diving isn't that he doesn't the ground, it's that he does for such a short amount of time that he is able to get up again and control the ball and continue attacking, time and time again. Some of the incidents on the video show that the reason the attack stops is that the refs DO call a foul and he's still hammering away.
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:58 AM on March 9, 2012


> Don't wait for the next world cup to watch and follow football, languagehat. Club football is much better because the players train together more often.

I'm not saying the world cup is better. I'm saying I very much want Argentina to win it again.
posted by languagehat at 11:07 AM on March 9, 2012


Well, yes, if you only look at Champions League since 1992 when they renamed the European Cup. If you on the other hand don't think the most prestigious European tournament becomes a new tournament just because some marketing droid suggests a name change, it has been done ten times before:

Those 10 previous times were against clubs that were "league champions", sure. The champions of the mighty football leagues of Malta, Cyprus and Luxembourg (twice each), Iceland, Finland, Sweden and Northern Ireland.

Messi scored his 5 against the team that finished second in the German Bundesliga last year, and had qualified for the knockout round with wins against Chelsea and Valencia. That, to me, is a hell of a lot more impressive than peppering some poor Cypriots for 5 goals.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 11:30 AM on March 9, 2012


I'm sure Olympique Lyon will find it comforting to know they were beaten by a bunch of poor Cypriots.
posted by brokkr at 11:42 AM on March 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Messi doesn't need to dive in a team with Sergio Busquets and Dani Alves.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 12:31 PM on March 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'd have to say that I think Barcelona's repeated success in the Champions League over the last five years is at least on a par with winning the World Cup once. The game is different now, and international football is not the pinnacle it used to be. There's a lot of luck and fortune that goes into a successful World Cup run; the same is of course true of a CL run, but when you win the thing 3 times in five years, the twists of fate tend to even out. (So do the twists of immense amount of money, but that's another conversation.)

I can't remember which goal it was, because god there are so, so many good ones, but there was one where Messi was driving in towards the box from left center, dodged a couple tackles, and then looked up to see a centre-back barrelling in towards him from the right. He didn't dodge that guy. Instead, he shifted the ball ahead of him to his left and then jumped forward into the guy, using the defender as a bumper to reflect himself back into the path of the ball he'd just moved. He played himself as a wall pass. He is so ridiculous.
posted by Errant at 1:10 PM on March 9, 2012


Tell me about it. Make it "most valuable player" ever and it becomes every trickier--I'd take Dennis Bergkamp in his prime over any of them.

A perfect excuse for another link to Dennis Bergkamp, Dennis Bergkamp, Dennis Bergkamp, DENNIS BERGKAMP! DENNIS BERGKAMP! DEEEEEEENNNNNNNNNNNNIS BEERRRRRRRRRRRRRGKAMP!
posted by reynir at 1:51 PM on March 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


[YouTube, Spanish]

Awfully pedantic I know but it's Portugese.

it's actually catalan
posted by valdesm at 1:53 PM on March 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure Messi could run circles around Pelé or Maradona in their respective primes. Just look at them play, that's all there is to it. I don't think it should matter how many world cups he wins. And to those that claim Maradona could single-handedly win a world cup and Messi can't... well, he can. He just needs a coach and a team that don't stand in his way. When Argentina is ready to do that, they'll win the world cup easily. Guardiola undertands this more than anybody else: he starts Messi in every match (only field player that doesn't rest), he gets to play in the position he feels more natural to him, he gets ego driven mates kicked out of the team (probably for Messi's sake), he lets him to skip pre-season training and go on holidays longer than the rest... "I will be able to say that I coached him"
posted by valdesm at 2:27 PM on March 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Tell me about it. Make it "most valuable player" ever and it becomes every trickier--I'd take Dennis Bergkamp in his prime over any of them.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:27 AM on March 9 [1 favorite +] [!]


/swoons
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 3:54 PM on March 9, 2012


i mean this one
posted by valdesm at 12:57 AM on March 10, 2012


Homeboy Trouble: Those 10 previous times were against clubs that were "league champions", sure. The champions of the mighty football leagues of Malta, Cyprus and Luxembourg (twice each), Iceland, Finland, Sweden and Northern Ireland.

Just as the football histories of England and Scotland - much as the broadcasters may wish it - were not wiped out by the formation of their respective Premier Leagues, the top-level European club competition is still the top-level European club competition regardless of the name.

Is Messi better than the players in brokkr's post? Yes. (Although there are some good players there.) Does that mean their achievements didn't count? No.
posted by smcg at 1:07 AM on March 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Additionally, that Lokomotiv Sofia - Malmö qualifying tie appears to have been an absolute corker. 8-3 in the first leg after 63 minutes, after which everyone appears to have gone home. Kotkov was done with his five goals after just 47! Malmö finished the first half of the return 2-0 up, so were still in with a fighting chance at that stage. And Linfield had actually beaten Göteborg in the first leg of their 59-60 tie, before losing the return 6-1.

On a final pedantic note: Malmö were not actually league champions in the 1964-65 European Cup. They qualified by leading the 1964 Allsvenskan at the time, but were beaten to the title by Djurgården, who qualified for the 65-66 tournament.
posted by smcg at 1:11 AM on March 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


smcg: "Additionally, that Lokomotiv Sofia - Malmö qualifying tie appears to have been an absolute corker. 8-3 in the first leg after 63 minutes, after which everyone appears to have gone home. Kotkov was done with his five goals after just 47! Malmö finished the first half of the return 2-0 up, so were still in with a fighting chance at that stage. And Linfield had actually beaten Göteborg in the first leg of their 59-60 tie, before losing the return 6-1."
Unfortunately, Youtube doesn't have highlights from these games :)

Incidentally, those two matches (Lokomotiv vs Malmö and IFK vs Linfield) are also the only of the 11 instances where the five-goal-scorer made a difference to the result of the game (win/draw).
posted by brokkr at 9:37 AM on March 11, 2012


Just in: Racing - FC Barcelona: Messi stamps his mark on El Sardinero (0-2). He scored the two goals. Man, what a legend!
posted by vac2003 at 4:54 PM on March 11, 2012


Just as the football histories of England and Scotland - much as the broadcasters may wish it - were not wiped out by the formation of their respective Premier Leagues, the top-level European club competition is still the top-level European club competition regardless of the name.

I'm not denying the history of the European Cup. My point was that the previous 5 goal performances had primarily/entirely come against minnows whereas Messi's performance was against a competitive club. The current setup of the Champions League is such that a top-flight team cannot play against a minnow, unless that minnow wins several playoffs against better teams (and is almost by definition at that point no longer a minnow). The setup when all of the other 5-goal performances occurred involved all of the teams in a playoff from the start, so you routinely had the champions of the best leagues in Europe playing the champions of the worst leagues.

This is the first time ever someone has had a five-goal performance outside of the preliminary round, which is a less meaningful distinction now that the earliest rounds are more competitive, but is a lot more relevant with the European Cup format. (Of course, the format and the name change didn't occur quite at the same time, and part of the reason for the format change was the collapse of the Soviet Union and creation of a bunch of Eastern teams).
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 10:23 PM on March 11, 2012


Homeboy Trouble: "... part of the reason for the format change was the collapse of the Soviet Union and creation of a bunch of Eastern teams)."
Oh, come on. The creation of the group stage in Champions League is for one reason only: more matches mean more TV money.
posted by brokkr at 3:13 AM on March 12, 2012


I guess I'm not really sure why you feel the need to be so dismissive of these other teams and leagues, then, if you actually acknowledge that this is not the first time this has happened. Like I said, of course Messi's better than the other players: he's Lionel Messi. Similarly, this current Barcelona side is one of the greatest club sides in history.

But sometimes the greats are beaten to statistical landmarks by mere mortals, as with Oleg Salenko's currently-unmatched feat of five goals in a single World Cup game. That's OK. Saying that the World Cup was a different format then, or that Cameroon were an 'uncompetitive' side (surely Leverkusen were equally so last week?), just makes it seem like you actively dislike these quirks rather than accepting or even delighting in them.
posted by smcg at 4:08 AM on March 12, 2012


"The current setup of the Champions League is such that a top-flight team cannot play against a minnow, unless that minnow wins several playoffs against better teams (and is almost by definition at that point no longer a minnow). "

Chelsea have had a few good CL runs recently...
posted by marienbad at 9:44 AM on March 12, 2012


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