Lionel Messi Beats Two Athletic Bilbao Defenders
Lionel Messi is unquestionably the most phenomenal footballer on the planet.
Since 2005, when he sparkled for Argentina in the u-20 World Cup and made his senior debut for FC Barcelona, Messi has dazzled stadiums throughout the world and smashed records and opponent's nets with his spectacular left-foot.
While many would still criticize the diminutive playmaker, it is not likely that any professional football player has accomplished such incredible feats in the span of less than a decade. Certainly, there are not many who have overcome as much as Messi.
Born in Rosario, he shone for local side Newell's Old Boys in various youth categories despite his very small stature. At the age of 11, Messi was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency and told that unless he could afford the $900 monthly treatment that would help him grow to a normal height, it was probable his football career would be cut severely short.
Newell's were unwilling to pay for the youngster's medicine and self-proclaimed millionaire club River Plate from Buenos Aires refused to sign him due to the inevitable expense that came along with his sickness.
Fortunately, Messi's father was able to arrange a trial with Barcelona and they traveled to Spain where the coaching staff was so impressed that they signed him on the spot.
Still only 5'7'' tall, the reigning FIFA World Player of the Year barely looks the part. He is short, stocky, and often has shaggy hair that makes him barely noticeable in public—unlike more athletic rivals such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Robin Van Persie.
Nevertheless, he has managed to become Top Scorer in Barcelona history with 253 goals at only 25 years old. In 2011-12, he broke the single-season record for goals scored in all competitions with 73 and it is quite possible that he might score more as the new season approaches.
For a player with over 250 goals in his Barcelona career, it is frustratingly difficult to rank or even assemble his Top 10. It would benefit you to log onto Youtube.com as soon as possible and watch some of the videos that contain all of Messi's club goals in under 15 minutes.
But, for now, here is my list of the Argentine's best strikes in his Barcelona career so far.
Messi’s first goal for Barcelona should have been a sure sign of things to come.
At the tender age of 17, he took a clever pass from his mentor Ronaldinho and launched an outrageous chip over the Albacete goalkeeper to make the score 2-0 against the minnows.
The miniature Argentine has produced similar chipped goals throughout his career. But his mere inexperience and the level of self-confidence at the time to even attempt such a skillful shot makes this one well worthy of its place on the list.
Some of Messi’s most spectacular strikes have come against Real Madrid.
In 2007, he scored a hat-trick in the league against Barcelona’s eternal rivals to pull-off a draw for the club. Then, two seasons later, he added another two strikes at the Santiago Bernabéu in a 6-2 drubbing by the Catalans.
Earlier that season, Messi produced this fine little chip over a standing Iker Casillas in the dying minutes of Barcelona's 2-0 home win against the Madrid side. Aside from the classy touch by the Argentine, this goal is memorable for a diving Fabio Cannavarro colliding with the goalpost in a failed effort to clear the lobbed shot.
Messi has probably scored every type of goal in the book.
However, he is less renowned for his free-kick ability than arguably any of the game's other great players.
This is certainly the Barcelona playmaker's most brilliant deadball strike to date and it happened in a memorable match away at Atletico Madrid last season.
Like most of Messi's stunning goals, the Madrid side's goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois is left powerless to stop the cheeky shot that is angled perfectly into the top right-hand corner of the net.
Inside the 18-yard box, Messi is one of the most dangerous players in world football.
The Argentine's low center of gravity and quick feet make him able to turn and pass defenders even in the tightest situations.
Here he receives a clever pass from Iniesta and dribbles himself away from Racing Santander's defenders before thrillingly sidestepping the goalkeeper in order to stroke an easy ball into the net.
Aside from the goal, Messi's first touch to get himself into space is simply breathtaking.
Against Sevilla in the 2011-12 season, Messi once again amazed the audience with this breathtaking chip to keep his Barcelona side in the title race.
While Messi favors the chip when facing an onrushing goalkeeper, this strike is made memorable by the nutmeg against the Sevilla defender.
At the pace that Messi is running when he received the ball from Iniesta, it is incredible to watch him turn in time to break the defender and then lead the goalie into the corner where he can easily place the ball over and away from him.
Lionel Messi is recognized in the game for his long, defense-shattering runs.
In this match against Real Zaragoza, he challenges four players on his way to goal. After leaving them all in the dust, he smashes the ball hard and low into the net to make it 0-2 to Barcelona.
While many players of Messi's stature are criticized for being weak and easily pushed off the ball, he shows his strength by dispossessing a Zaragoza midfielder and clearly letting his opponents know that despite his size he will do everything possible to get the ball at his feet.
This effort definitively illustrates that Barcelona's number 10 is dangerous even without possession—something frightening for anyone summoned to defend the Argentine.
In the 1986 World Cup against England, Diego Maradona scored what would eventually be known as the Goal of the Century.
Fast forward 21 years and his undoubted successor scores almost the exact same goal to put Barcelona well into the lead against Getafe.
Sure, it was against a lesser quality opponent and occurred in a regular league match—far from a World Cup quarterfinal against an eternal rival.
Nevertheless, to produce such a magnificent run and beat so many opponents en route to a goal is not something that one usually sees, regardless of the league or opponent.
Not far from being his best goal, this dazzling effort illustrates the kind of speed and close footwork that defenders encounter every time they line up against Messi.
It is true that matches against Real Madrid often bring out of the best in the miniature Argentine, as we have already seen in this slideshow.
Overall, Messi has scored 15 goals against Los Blancos in all competitions. If you fast forward to :40 seconds you can witness this fascinating run to win another away match against Cristiano Ronaldo's club.
Starting at full speed to receive a precise pass from Xavi, the Barcelona starlet keeps close control to race past four defenders before shooting away from Iker Casillas to make it 0-2 to the Catalans.
This goal is especially remarkable considering that Real Madrid tends to leak less goals than any other La Liga side—except for Barcelona—and that Messi makes some of the world's best defenders look absolutely helpless as they can only watch him at his best.
Some players will be criticized for not turning up when playing on football's biggest stages.
With Messi, however, that is never the case.
In the 2009 Champions League final, Messi silenced critics of his overall game and rose to head home against Manchester United to claim the European crown for Barcelona.
Aside from the brilliant header at 1:30, this goal is recognizable for the way that the towering Rio Ferdinand is left watching in vain as Messi strokes it home to make it 2-0.
Surely, the giant could have never expected such a header from a player standing only 5'7''.
But, when it comes to Messi, it is best to never doubt anything he could do.
Words are a fascinating thing to consider when discussing Lionel Messi. Mostly because there are not enough in any vocabulary in the world to describe him.
This unbelievable effort against Arsenal in the second leg of their 2011 Champions League quarterfinal is one of the greatest goals in European history.
At first, it seems that when Messi breaks through on goal the onrushing Manuel Almunia gets a foot onto the ball and lifts it to the Argentine for him to stroke in.
However, on closer inspection, it is obvious that in the span of milliseconds Messi reacts quick enough to lob the ball right over the goalkeeper and with his second touch strike the ball into the net.
It never even hit the ground. Simply breathtaking and easily the best goal in the Barcelona legend's résumé—for now.