Barcelona 2-1 Real Sociedad: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Barça Edge Closer to Defending Title

Barcelona maintained their nine-point lead at the top of La Liga, as goals from defenders Jordi Alba and Clement Lenglet earned a 2-1 victory over Real Sociedad.

The hosts appeared weary during the encounter, lacking the intensity and accuracy to pull away from their opponents. Lionel Messi was hesitant and wasteful when attacking Sociedad defenders, whilst Luis Suarez was noticeably leggy and struggled to leave any sizeable impact on proceedings.

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La Real frustrated the champions for large periods, but were undone when Lenglet rose highest to guide a magnificent header into the far corner of the net on 45 minutes. The visitors had almost taken the lead prior to that when Juanmi got in behind the ?Barcelona defence, only to have his weak effort smothered by Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Juanmi made up for that miss early into the second half when he latched onto a smart through ball, clipping the ball beyond the sprawling Ter Stegen. Sociedad were level for just two minutes though, Alba rifling a low drive with his right boot past the impressive Gerónimo Rulli.


Barcelona

Key Talking Point

Barcelona looked rather toothless throughout the contest, failing to create too many clear-cut opportunities. That is a concern for Ernesto Valverde as they prepare to take on the ?Premier League’s meanest defence in less than a fortnight’s time.

Barça simply must be better in an attacking capacity if they are to overcome ?Liverpool in their ?Champions League semi-final tie. ?Messi was workmanlike and industrious, but lacked the clinical edge to put the visitors to the sword. Barça have relied upon their Argentine magician in recent weeks and need him to be firing on all cylinders for the test against the Reds.

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He had notched eight times in his last five ?La Liga appearances before Saturday night’s game, demonstrating his importance to the team. 


Player Ratings

Starting XI: Ter Stegen (7); Semedo (6), Pique (5), Lenglet (8*), Alba (6); Vidal (5), Arthur (6), Rakitic (5); Messi (6), Dembele (5), Suarez (6).

Substitutes: Coutinho (5), Busquets (6), Roberto (5).


Star Man

Barça were far from their fluid, flowing best with several stars lacking their usual sharpness. However, two of their key men in defence were superb from the first minute until the last. Ter Stegen’s double save towards the end of the first period maintained parity, but it was Lenglet in front of the German who stole the show.

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??The 23-year-old was composed all game, showing solid distribution, intelligent pass selection and solid reading of platy. He also made several critical interventions to end Sociedad attacks and generally read the play excellently, though was powerless to prevent Real’s goal.. 

His opener moments before the break crowned a fine all-round display from Lenglet, the centre-back grabbing his first La Liga goal. He continues to develop nicely under Valverde’s tutelage, with performances like this cementing his place in the coach’s first-choice backline.


Real Sociedad 

Player Ratings

Starting XI: Rulli (8*); Zaldua (5), Llorente (7), Elustondo (6), Munoz (6); Merino (4), Zubeldia (7), Pardo (6); Juanmi (6), Oyarzabal (5), Jose (4).

Substitutes: Sangalli (6).


Looking Ahead

The Catalans travel to eighth-place Alavés on Tuesday with the latter still fighting for a Europa League place for next season. They welcome Levante to the Nou Camp in another league match four days later before the first leg of the clash with Liverpool at the same venue the following Wednesday.

Sociedad entertain Villarreal at Anoeta Stadium on Thursday, with Getafe then making the journey to the Basque country on Sunday.

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Ernesto Valverde Reveals His Biggest Fear Ahead of Barcelona’s CL Semi Final Clash With Liverpool

?Ernesto Valverde has admitted his is fearful of Liverpool’s deadly attacking trio ahead of Barcelona’s Champions League semi final clash against the Reds.

The Spanish giants booked their place in the last four after a convincing 4-0 win over two legs against Manchester United, with the great Lionel Messi putting in another classic performance in the second leg to help see his side through.

Lionel Messi,Philippe Coutinho

The win set up a semi final clash with last year’s runners up ?Liverpool who comfortably overcame Porto in their quarter-final, capped off with a convincing 4-1 win in the second leg at the Estadio do Dragao. The Reds’ attacking trio of ?Sadio Mane, ?Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino all got themselves on the scoresheet, and it clearly sent a message out to ?Barcelona.

Quoted by the Mirror this week, Valverde admitted he is mindful about facing Liverpool’s front three but also insisted his side will do all they can to reach the final, saying: “Liverpool are a very powerful opponent. Offensive players have been showing their potential in the last two years.

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“Last year they reached the final. This time they’re having a great tournament. They are also fighting in the Premier League.

“It’s a very attractive game for them, for us and for the public. It will be very hard, for them and for us. The final is just there and we’ll give our best to reach it.”

There is a lot at stake for both teams, with the winner of the tie set to take on either Ajax or Tottenham in the final at the Wanda Metropolitano in Madrid on June 1.

Ernesto Valverde

In the meantime Barcelona are still yet to wrap up the Spanish league title and will be keen to do so as soon as possible to put the distraction out of their minds. 

As for Liverpool, they will have little chance to rest any of their star men ahead of the tie given the title race they currently find themselves in against Manchester City.

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Frenkie de Jong Gives Surprisingly Blunt Response Over Matthijs de Ligt’s Potential Barcelona Move

?Ajax sensation Frenkie de Jong has insisted that he ‘does not care’ whether or not teammate Matthijs de Ligt chooses to follow in his footsteps and sign for Barcelona.

Midfielder De Jong has already sealed a huge £65m deal which will see one of the most promising young midfielders arrive at Camp Nou next season, while he continues to lead his current side to Champions League heroics in the meantime.

Reports have suggested that Ajax captain De Ligt could also be set for a move to Barcelona in the summer but, as quoted by ?Calciomercato, De Jong said: “De Ligt with me at ?Barcelona? I don’t care.

“He is the one who has to choose, and I will not interfere in his decision.”

De Jong has starred alongside Ajax captain De Ligt as the Eredivisie side reached the semi finals of Europe’s elite competition in midweek with a stunning second leg victory away to ?Juventus in the quarter finals.

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The result saw the Amsterdam-based side conquer another side who have also been heavily linked with a move for De Ligt in Turin, though recent reports have indicated that Catalonia is De Ligt’s more likely destination.

The potential capture of one of the most highly-rated young centre backs on the continent, alongside the arrival of De Jong, would come as a huge boost to Barca’s quest for renewed domination over European football.


Ernesto Valverde’s side are going strong this term, boasting a nine-point lead at the top of the La Liga table, and also progressed to the semi finals of the Champions League courtesy of a comfortable 3-0 victory over ?Manchester United on Tuesday.

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90min’s Definitive European Power Rankings: Week 29

?Following a week where, I mean Jesus, what didn’t happen? Seriously, Jesus, on this Easter weekend, please tell me what didn’t happen in the world of football this week, because I’m at a loss. Essentially:

– Ajax did it again.

– Juventus cratered as an institution. No seriously – ?they did.

– United Jose’d again.

– Tottenham DIDN’T Tottenham.

– Liverpool Liverpool’d.

– Chelsea didn’t Chelsea, then drastically did.

– Europa League Unai Emery Europa League Unai Emery’d.

But that was just a tiny portion of what went down, so to help us explain the rest, we’ve employed dramatic comedy and soul-searcher extraordinaire, Noah Baumbach, and all his filmography, to help us slog through it. Never been to Prague? Let’s go. 


15. Paris Saint-Germain (Down 5)

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“Dear Starbucks, in your attempt to manufacture culture out of fast food coffee you’ve been surprisingly successful for the most part. The part that isn’t covered by ‘the most part’ sucks.” (Greenberg)

How are Paris Saint-Germain still kicking around in these here rankings? Well, they’re still Ligue 1 champions in waiting, and their French Cup final is coming up. 

The part that isn’t that? The part where they endured consecutive losses to Lille (5-1) and Nantes (3-2)? The part where they’ve attempted to manufacture culture out of football?

Yeah, that sucks.


14. Atletico Madrid (Re-Entry)

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?“I found myself writing ‘wake up’ and ‘go to bed’ in my day planner as if they are two different events.” (Kicking & Screaming)

It’s true. Atletico Madrid don’t have much to play for these days after their Champions League exit to Juventus and subsequent loss to Barcelona, which all but ended their La Liga hopes too. 

But still, a 2-0 win against Celta Vigo…that’s good going, guys! Whack that one in the diary. 


13. Valencia (New Entry)

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“‘So what do you do?

‘Eh…It’s kinda hard to explain.’

‘Because what you do is complicated?’

‘Eh…Because I don’t really do it.” (Frances Ha)

A new entry! And at this late stage! How exciting!

And Valencia have earned it, truly, by reaching the semi finals of the Europa League. What an achievement!

How did they do it, you ask? Have I watched a second of this vaunted Europa League campaign, you ask? No, but I’m certain they did do it. Good enough for me. That quote’s become meta now, hasn’t it? 


12. Chelsea (Up 2)

Pedro

“Oh, I’ve been to Prague. Well, I haven’t ‘been to Prague’ been to Prague, but I know that thing; that, ‘Stop shaving your armpits, read The Unbearable Lightness of Being, date a sculptor, now I know how bad American coffee is’ thing.

‘They have good beer there.’

‘Now I know how bad American beer is thing.’” (Kicking & Screaming)

?Chelsea have now definitively been to Prague. And they discovered just how good Petr Sevick’s right foot is, and how bad they can be with a 4-1 lead at half-time. 

Still, European semi final number 14 is on the way.


11. Lille (New Entry)

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“It’s like their apartment is full of everything we once threw out, but it looks so good the way they have it.” (While We’re Young)

Another new entry! What exciting times. And, again, this is fully deserved. 

Lille absolutely spanked the soulless Ligue 1 leaders 5-1 to delay their (still inevitable) coronation.

And they cherry-on-topped it with a goal from Jose Fonte. Sure, they have probably-generational youth talent like Nicolas Pepe, but still, Jose Fonte!!! And he looked so good, didn’t he?


10. Eintracht Frankfurt (Up 5)?

Timothy Chandler,Mijat Gacinovic

“If Plato is a fine red wine, then Aristotle is a dry martini.” (Kicking & Screaming)

I could say something equally faux-profound about Eintracht Frankfurt’s remarkable 2018/19 season, but I won’t.

I’ll just say that Luka Jovic is very good. As is Ante Rebic. As is Filip Kostic. Blues beware. 


9. Juventus (Down 5)

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“What I used to be able to pass off as a bad summer could now potentially turn into a bad life.” (Kicking & Screaming)

Another year, another European dream shattered right in front of the Old Lady’s eyes. Juve are now broken. Seriously, seriously broken. 

Sure, they have an eighth consecutive Scudetto to look forward to in the next fortnight (at most), but look around, there are no other Serie A teams in these rankings as it stands. And that tells you all you need to know. 


8. Borussia Dortmund (-)

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“Sometimes it’s good to do what you’re supposed to do when you’re supposed to do it.” (Frances Ha)

Finally, FINALLY, ?Borussia Dortmund did what they’ve supposed to have been doing during this Bundesliga title race run-in – win. And comfortably, too. 

A Jadon Sancho brace was just what the doctor ordered. More of the same, please. You know how much faith we placed in you. Some confirmation that this wasn’t misplaced would be nice. 

Thanks.


7. Arsenal (Up 1)

Ainsley Maitland-Niles,Allan

“For the first time in my life I’ve stopped thinking of myself as a child imitating an adult.” (While We’re Young)

All of a sudden, Arsenal look like a team of grown ups, especially in Europe. Of course, the stewardship of Europa League savant Unai Emery must help, but still, the improvement in their midweek continental maturity has been stark. 

Brandon Stark? Yes, ‘Game of Thrones‘ is still a thing, and if I had the time to insert Bran into this picture – cause, you know, he’s everywhere man! – I would.


6. Bayern Munich (Up 1)

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“You know, me and Jamie, always wondered, ‘how are we gonna get old?’ And the answer is…just like everyone else.” (While We’re Young)

At times this season, Bayern have looked just like a team of their age should look: bedraggled, off the pace, out of touch etc. 

But at others, they’ve appeared as ageless as a bunch of boys from Neverland.

The only way we’ll find out which assessment is true is by waiting for the sands of time to do their work. How profound. 


5. Manchester City (-)

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?”Josh, you know the world isn’t a giant conspiracy against you.” (While We’re Young)

Replace Josh with Manchester City and, yep, you’ve got it. A bitter, bitter, way to lose? Sure. A Var-spiracy hell-bent on keeping your plucky side of misfits from touching European glory? Give over. 

That may have been harsh. Because I genuinely did feel for City fans on Wednesday night – there can’t be many worse ways to lose than that, after a game like that. So here, have another Baumbach quote, on the house:

“How do you make God laugh? Make a plan.” (Kicking & Screaming)

Feeling better yet?


4. Barcelona (Down 2)

Lionel Messi

“It was like walking barefoot through broken glass to get a milkshake. I loved the milkshake, but, you know, my feet were bleeding.” (‘The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)’)

Yes, it’s only a matter of time before Barcelona win La Liga, and yes, they won their Champions League quarter-final second leg with ease. 

So why the bleeding feet?

Well, it can’t be pleasant playing 180 minutes against Manchester United, can it? 

In other film-milkshake related news, ?Lionel Messi is coming for your milkshake, Europe, and he wants to drink it all up.


3. Tottenham Hotspur (Up 3)

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“It’s huge to finally embrace the life you never planned on.” (Greenberg)

In their wildest dreams, ?Tottenham fans would never have ‘planned on’ reaching the Champions League semi finals. They may have hoped and dreamed and prayed. But never ‘planned’. They’re not like that. 

Fortunately, that’s not how their club were thinking. That’s not what their players were thinking. That’s not what their manager was thinking. For years, they’ve been plotting this moment. Sure, there’s been some praying on the way too, but Wednesday night wasn’t the result of prayers.

It was planning at its best. 


2. Liverpool (Up 1)

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“I haven’t had that thing yet, where you realise that you’re not the most important person in the world.” (Margot at the Wedding)

Sure, Liverpool vanquished some demons when they dispatched of Chelsea on Sunday at Anfield, and then vanquished Porto altogether in their ?Champions League tie, but are they the most important club in the world?

They may feel like it, but clearly, given their runner-up medal in these here rankings, they’re not. 

Sorry.


1. Ajax (-)

Matthijs de Ligt,Daley Blind,David Neres,Lasse Schone

?”Don’t mind me, I’m just trying to get your attention.” (Frances Ha)

Well, by God, De Godenzonen, you’ve got it. Ten times over. Christ, we love you. We love your style of football. We love your infectious youthful naivety, your generational talent, your once in a lifetime collective, your never-say-die-attitude. We love it all. 

The fact that these words are uttered by the God Adam Driver should not be ignored, either. Driver was an up-and-comer for a millisecond, and then, deservedly, he was an A-grade actor. There was no in between. No stint in Hollywood purgatory. He’s just great, in everything does. 

A lot like Ajax.

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Barcelona ‘Revisit Possibility’ of Signing Richarlison in Deal That Would Cost More Than €50m

?Barcelona have reconsidered pursuing a summer deal for Everton’s Richarlison, as they remain on the lookout for an alternative to Luis Suarez.

The Blaugrana have tracked Richarlison since before he made the move to the Premier League in 2017, but have so far decided against attempting to lure him to Camp Nou.

Richarlison

However, that could all be about to change, as ?Marca claim ?Barcelona officials have again discussed the possibility of trying to sign ?Richarlison this summer.

The 21-year-old has managed 12 ?Premier League goals this season, forcing his way into Tite’s plans for the Brazil national team. His rapid development is said to have impressed Barcelona, who now view him as a serious option for the summer.

Ernesto Valverde’s side have struggled in their search, with plenty of targets dropping off their radar in recent weeks. Krzysztof Piatek opted to join ?Milan, Eintracht Frankfurt wonderkid Luka Jovic is said to favour a move to ?Real Madrid, while ?Manchester United would demand too much to part with? Marcus Rashford.

Cost could also prove to be a problem in their pursuit of Richarlison. ?Everton have no need to part ways with their star, who is under contract until the summer of 2023, and could easily demand over €50m to sign him.

This price tag may scare Barcelona away, and the fact that he does not yet hold a European passport is also seen to be a potential issue. Richarlison would have to be registered as one of the club’s non-EU players, and director of football Eric Abidal is not keen on using one of their three spots on the Everton man.

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Currently, Malcom, Arthur and ?Arturo Vidal occupy those three non-EU positions, and Richarlison’s arrival would mean one of those three would have to be moved on.

Barcelona are yet to make a decision on whether they will pursue Richarlison, but he is said to be near the top of their wish list. However, they will face competition from Milan, who have long been linked with the Brazilian.

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Philippe Coutinho Reveals Excitement Ahead of Liverpool Return in Champions League Semi Final

?Philippe Coutinho has revealed he is looking forward to returning to Merseyside following confirmation that Liverpool and Barcelona will thrash out a Champions League semi-final, with the second leg at Anfield taking place on May 7.  

Coutinho made the blockbuster move to the Catalans in January 2018 after enjoying five years with the Reds and will be looking to put his emotions aside as he bids to reach a first Champions League final. 

Philippe Coutinho

In a Q&A with Nissan Football on Instagram relayed by the ?Liverpool Echo, Barcelona’s number seven was asked a series of questions submitted by fans. 

One fan asked: “How do you feel about playing against Liverpool?”

To which the Brazilian replied: “Very excited!”

Another question put to the midfielder by a fan was: “Favourite Champions League moment of all time?”

To which the 26-year-old revealed: “My hat-trick against Spartak Moscow.”

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Coutinho bagged three goals in his side’s 7-0 demolition of Spartak Moscow in last season’s Champions League group stage and naming it as his favourite memory of the competition will strike a chord with Liverpool supporters. 

Considering he scored an absolutely screamer against ?Manchester United on Tuesday evening which helped secure their elimination, the Moscow memory may have come as a surprise, although fans in the Kop will undoubtedly look fondly on both incidents.

?Liverpool have been handed a boost in their bid to challenge for both the ?Champions League and ?Premier League titles with the ??news? that versatile defender Joe Gomez is fit and ready for selection.

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Jurgen Klopp Opens Up on Champions League Reunion With Philippe Coutinho Ahead of Crunch Semi

Jurgen Klopp has admitted that Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho’s return to Anfield in the Champions League semi-finals will be ‘special’ for both the players and the club. 

Klopp’s Reds stormed past Porto on Wednesday night, beating the Portuguese side 4-1 to seal a routine 6-1 aggregate win. 

Suarez left Merseyside almost five years ago after the Reds’ last title challenge, while Coutinho headed for Catalunya in January 2018 in a move which made him the third most expensive footballer of all time. 

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He said, quoted by ?The Metro: “For them [Coutinho and Suarez], for these two boys, it’s very special. For us, it’s special. They are both Liverpool legends, that’s brilliant.”

Despite the undeniable brilliance of the two, Liverpool will go into the tie with a real chance of reaching their second European final in two seasons – this time without Loris Karius between the sticks. 

The man standing between the Reds and the Wanda Metropolitano is Lionel Messi, whose two goals on Tuesday night killed any chance Manchester United had of facing their old Premier KLeague rivals in the semis. 

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Klopp admitted that he was grateful to have a little time before having to think about stopping the Argentine, adding: “Thank God I don’t have to think about that tonight. I have a few more nights to think about that. So many teams tried [to stop Messi] but nobody really did it. We have so many jobs to do before we meet Barcelona though. Let’s first play these games and we will see.”

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Virgil van Dijk Admits He Does Not Know How to Stop Lionel Messi in Champions League Semi-Final

?Liverpool centre back Virgil Van Dijk has conceded he does not know how he can stop Barcelona’s Lionel Messi when the two sides come face to face in their Champions League semi final next month.

Van Dijk is considered by many to be the best defender in the world, but even he appears unsure how to tackle the threat of the Argentinian superstar, such is Messi’s ability to conjure moments of pure genius when scoring and creating goals for his team.

Barcelona’s No.10 was once again the difference as they progressed 4-0 on aggregate in their quarter final against Manchester United, scoring twice at the Nou Camp on Tuesday night to take the game away from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side.

Lionel Messi

And, after Liverpool’s 4-1 win over Porto on Wednesday night confirmed their place in the last four to face Barça, Van Dijk was asked by Viasport how he plans to keep Messi quiet over the two fixtures – the Dutch international answering: “I don’t know, we’ll see. 

“It’s about doing it all together, it’s never one versus one, it’s never just me against a particular striker. It’s going to be very hard and I think he’s the best player in the world but we’ll see.”

The dates for the semi final were confirmed by UEFA early on Thursday morning, with Liverpool set to travel to the Nou Camp on Wednesday 1st May before Barcelona head to Anfield for the return leg the following Tuesday.

The battle between Van Dijk and Messi will be crucial in determining who will progress to the final at the Wanda Metropolitano on June 1st with the victors knowing they will have a fantastic opportunity to lift the Champions League this season.

Whichever team wins the tie will go into the final as favourites, and will face either Tottenham Hotspur or Ajax, both of whom caused major upsets by beating Manchester City and Juventus in their respective quarter finals.

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Anatomy of a Goal: 12 Years On From Lionel Messi’s Stunning Solo GOAT Goal Against Getafe

?When a goal is voted the Greatest of All Time at any club, it is a big deal. When it is given the GOAT nod at Barcelona, it’s meteoric. It’s seismic. It’s United Nations-worthy. Unfortunately, the UN didn’t see it that way, so they palmed it off on a mere 500,000 fans worldwide. 

What did they select? This. 

April 18th, 2007. A date where the US Supreme Court upheld the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act in a 5-4 decision (not quite 5-2, is it?). A date where Princess Haya Bint Al Hamzah, Princess of Jordan and spouse of Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (prime minister of the UAE, and overseer of 90% of modern football clubs) celebrated her 33rd birthday (or maybe not, Wikipedia have it down as May 3rd).

Copa del Rey Semi Final - Barcelona v Getafe

What we do know, definitely, is that this was the day that Lionel Messi shocked the world. 

April 18th 2007, and a fairly innocuous looking Copa del Rey semi-final first leg on the calendar for ?Barcelona against Getafe – that other team from Madrid. It is a goal against the capital lesser’s side, not their Clasico counterparts, which remains embedded in every Barca fan’s head all these years later. Not that this is about Getafe. Or La Blaugrana, for that matter. 

This is about Messi. 

I could tell you the context of the clash, the things that preceded and proceeded this gargantuan moment, but what’s the point? It has all faded into obscurity for a reason. Because there were only 13 significant touches of the ball that occurred during this game. 

Messi’s touches. 

He receives the ball from Xavi – probably Xavi, there seems to be a grainy number six on his back (again, it doesn’t matter) – a few metres inside his own half, on the right touchline. Despite his position in this fairly harmless part of the pitch, the Argentine still has two onrushing Getafans on him right away. 

One is more eager than the other, and flies into Messi with the kind of careless abandon of a player unaware that his opponent is a man who, in two years time, will begin a then-unprecedented run of four consecutive Ballon d’Or wins.

He’s dealt with quickly and ruthlessly. Messi gathers the ball with one exacting touch, and a split-second later his second touch has knocked it softly through the unknowing defender’s legs. His third completes the nutmeg, taking him barrelling – although Leo Messi doesn’t barrel, he glides – towards the halfway line. 

That second fella, having seen his mate get thoroughly embarrassed, doesn’t heed the warning; he barrels – and this time it’s definitely a barrel – towards the number 10 with vengeance in his heart and anger in his eyes. 

This was ill-advised. All too aware that this bitter foe is coming for him next, the magician readies his next trick. With a swift duck of his head, swivel of his hips and shift in direction, Leo has knocked it through another fool’s legs. That’s his fourth. He’s now over the halfway line.

The confidence with which ’13 touches’ was thrown out earlier was misplaced. The problem, or the beauty, of Messi’s dribbling skills is that there are occasions where you think he might’ve touched the ball – he must’ve, because it’s so tethered to his foot – but you can’t be completely sure. It’s either 13 or 14.

Leo Messi,Albin

In any case, his fifth, sixth, potentially ghost-seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth take him – with blistering speed – towards the final wave of defenders. In less than three seconds, he’s approaching the box. 

In all this time, neither of the nutmegged club members have given up. They are still in fevered pursuit, desperately trying to get a grasp of the blurring blaugrana shirt that has inflicted this humiliation. Even without the distraction of a ball at their feet, they never stood a chance. Eventually, the first victim relents. He knows his fate is sealed, why tempt it further? 

The second one? Not so much. He thinks he’s gathering speed, thinks he’s got an opportunity to stop history in its tracks. And so he leaps in to the rescue. The problem is, he has no awareness of his position on the pitch, and the presence of his left-sided centre back right in front of him. 

And so, instead of thwarting the move, he simply succeeds in obstructing his more defensively inclined friend from attempting a challenge. That’s where the 11th touch comes. With brisk dexterity, Messi taps it to the left, away from both, but right into the path of the right-sided centre back. 

Having seen all his good-for-nothing colleagues fail so dramatically, the right-sided centre back is in no mood for niceties. He’s been waiting for this opportunity. He jockeys, he jockeys, and then seeing his opportunity to let rip – the aforementioned 11th touch rolling towards him – he unleashes a Chopper Harris-style lunge.

Like this.

FC Barcelona's Argentine Leo Messi (C) v...

But it’s futile. The number 10 has seen him coming just like he’s seen everyone else, and after tapping it towards him with his left foot, he instantly reverses this with another left-footed tap, like an elongated flip flap. 

Having been steadily travelling diagonally inwards from the touchline all this time, this 12th touch has suddenly taken him square and, more importantly, into the penalty area. It’s just him, the goalkeeper and an awestruck Samuel Eto’o. 

With the ball still rolling, but always within his control, he takes a moment to steady himself. He slows the game down and then, with a sly feint of his head and feet, he feigns to shoot – sitting down the goalkeeper before tapping it around his felled body with his left foot and, in a final flourish, knocking the ball over a recovering defender and into the net with his right.

Samuel Etoo,Leo Messi

Masterful. 

Would it ruin it for you if I told you that this magnificent goal in this magnificent 5-2 win was in vain? If I told you that somehow, Getafe mustered a 4-0 win in the return leg to reach the final? 

No it wouldn’t. Because, in every way, ?Lionel Messi transcends the conventions of football.

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Champions League: Magical Messi Silences Ronaldo

About 90min

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