By: Ryan Pikna
Another successful day of UEFA Champions League play has come and gone once again, and the talk of today has to be Lionel Messi. Even if you completely and utterly despise Barcelona and Lionel Messi, as a fan of the beautiful game you have to admire today’s performance.
Photo from fOTOGLIF
Lionel Messi’s four goal performance on the day should and most likely did strike fear into the back-line of Inter Milan and Real Madrid. With goals in the 21st, 37th, 42nd, and 88th minutes he sealed Arsenal’s exit from the competition, and put Barcelona through to face their rivals from the group stage, Inter Milan. Messi’s first goal came only after Nicklas Bendter had put Arsenal ahead in the 18th minute. His first was a superb left-footed strike from the edge of the area that flew into the top corner of the net. Admittedly Messi was a bit lucky to get his own rebound after his pass was deflected, but once it came back to his left foot he let fly like he has done so many times before. The second goal taken with his weaker right foot from about seven yards out was the go ahead goal of the match, but it was his third goal that was truly that of the best player in the world. He was played through cleverly by Keita, when Arsenal pressing higher up the pitch, and one on one with Almunia all bets were on the magic little Argentinean. From 18 yards out he sublimely chipped the ball over Almunia’s head for his fourth hat-trick of 2010, but he wasn’t done just yet. In the 88th minute Messi weaved and slithered his way into the Arsenal penalty area and past multiple defenders to have his initial shot saved, only to once again pounce on the rebound placing his shot low through Almunia’s legs for his fourth of the night.
Photo from fOTOGLIF
Even if the Arsenal defenders had eight legs they still wouldn’t have been able to stop Messi in this match. The question that arises, with Barcelona’s next Champions League match against Inter Milan, who will be more influential, Wesley Sneijder or Lionel Messi? Both players are in excellent form, and causing a lot of problems for their opponents’ back lines. After tonight’s performance though, the smart money would be on Lionel Messi. He is just unstoppable, and at only 22 years of age, like a fine wine he will only continue to improve.