Lionel Messi

Goals. Lots of goals.

Last night I dreamt that Summer was over, and the football/soccer season was on again. It was great.

Today, in intermittent gaps in essay writing, I watched these videos to recapture the essence of my dream. Only when I dreamt I was, as is my custom, between the sticks.

There are some amazing goals in this little collection.

And while we’re on the subject of football highlights – here’s some Messi. This is quite incredible – lesser players go down from lesser challenges.

And here are all his goals from last season.

It’s incredible how often he dribbles past the hapless goal keepers.

That’s all fixed by this amazing non-Messi moment.

And then there’s these.

It’s moments like this that a Foxtel subscription starts to look really attractive.

Messi, aged 5

Lionel Messi is a freak. In ten years we’ll probably be talking about how his work on the global stage is unlikely ever to be repeated. Just like people did with Pele, Maradona, and like I say about Eric Cantona.

Anyway. Here’s Messi as a five year old. The ball is almost half his size, and it’s still on a string.

Here he is ripping Bayer Leverkusen apart in the Champions League 19 years later.

The Beautiful Game

Barcelona play a beautiful style of football. It is mesmerising.

Allas is a YouTuber who is devoting his energy to studying what makes them tick. The production quality of some of these is low, but if you’ve ever wanted to understand the way modern football is played – get on this…

A lot of what they do revolves around the brilliance of Lionel Messi.

The secret to football success for small people

I’m pretty excited about the Champions League Final this weekend. My favourite team is playing my favourite team to watch. Man Utd v Barcelona. It doesn’t get much bigger than this. The fate of both teams essentially rests on the shoulders of two little men, a midfield maestro hailed as the best of all time, and a midfield dynamo who will be charged with the task of containing him. Lionel Messi v Park Ji Sung.

The secret to Lionel’s success, according to an interview with the NY Times, is joy, and Barcelona’s amazing youth system.

Quickly enough, though, he immersed himself in the Barcelona style, which demands flair and creativity, not mere utility. He played the keep-away game called El Rondo, in which one player stands inside a circle trying to steal passes made in tight spaces. He mastered the system known as tiki-taka, built around short, rhythmic passes and movement described by Iniesta as “receive, pass, offer,” triangular exchanges that form a spellbinding geometry.

On occasion, Messi does break his reticence. On Thursday, he said he played with the same eagerness that he did in Argentina when he improvised soccer balls from stones and women’s tights and cans of cola. “I have fun like a child in the street,” he said. “When the day comes when I’m not enjoying it, I will leave football.”

The secret to Park’s success is a little more sinister. Frog juice. Urgh.

“My father went to catch wild frogs. I was skinny and weak and my father heard their juice would give me size and strength,” Park said.

“It tasted very, very bad but I had to drink it because I wanted to be a footballer and everyone said I needed to be bigger and stronger.

“They said it was good for my health to become stronger and I ate anything that would improve my health.”

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