Lionel Messi: Real Madrid v Barcelona 2011
Words from Jason Pettigrove.
Leo Messi had already stuck a dagger into Real Madrid’s Champions League hopes back in the 2011 semi-final first leg, getting on the end of a whipped Ibrahim Afellay cross with 14 minutes left to play. With three minutes to go however, he delivered the coup de grace. Surely one of the best goals ever seen at the Santiago Bernabeu and, ultimately, the one which condemned Los Blancos to an earlier than expected exit from European football’s premier competition. Receiving the ball from a short Sergio Busquets free-kick inside the centre circle, there was little hint of the danger that would follow.
As Lass Diarra came forward to block Messi, the latter returned the ball to Busquets who had moved into a pocket of space. Shielding the ball, he allowed Messi to take it off him as he did so, and the Argentinian was already well into his stride before beating Diarra for pace as he attempted to cover. By now at the mid point between the centre circle and penalty area, Messi came face to face with both of Los Blancos’ centre-backs, Sergio Ramos and Raul Albiol. A drop of the shoulder and burst of acceleration took him past both and into the area, as Marcelo attempted to get across and make a last ditch challenge.
Moving away from goal on a diagonal run, Messi darted in front of the Brazilian but had Ramos now back in close proximity and Iker Casillas coming out to narrow the angle. On his weaker right foot, the Argentinian simply rolled the ball into the opposite corner of the net, leaving Casillas no chance. Given the standard of the opposition, the importance of the game and the timing, it has to go down as Messi’s best ever goal.
Jason is content editor @fcbarcelona a published author and freelance football journalist follow his views here: @jasonpettigrove
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