May 22, 2011

“He plays like a child enjoying the pasture, playing for the pleasure of playing, not the duty of winning.": That's the Uruguayan novelist Eduardo Galeano on Lionel Messi, who receives a long profile from the New York Times in advance of next Saturday's Champions League final.

posted by etagloh to soccer at 01:50 AM - 7 comments

Wow! Read this article and you can almost understand the rest of the world's passion for soccer! I've never watched with more than passing interest, but the way Lionel Messi's play was disected is enough for me to tune in next Saturday for the Champions League final against Manchester United. Comparisons to Pele and Diego Maradona make it sound like you'll be watching someone special. I'll bite!

posted by mitchigan at 08:09 AM on May 22, 2011

If you have a passing interest, you should watch Xavi instead of Messi.

/I'm so funny.

posted by owlhouse at 09:14 PM on May 22, 2011

I think the profile veers a little towards excessive reverence, but it does capture, I think, what people project onto Messi on account of the way he plays -- people who, for the most part, only got to see Pel or Cruyff after the fact, in sporadic moments on the world stage. Now, across the world, you can see Messi every week of the season.

The analogies coalesce around a simple idea: that Messi plays at the top level of the game with the spirit of kids who play on long summer evenings until it's too dark to see the ball, not for the victory, but for the joy of playing and the memories it leaves you.

posted by etagloh at 09:18 PM on May 22, 2011

If you have a passing interest, you should watch Xavi instead of Messi.

I'm guessing there's some back story to his, but the funny thing is that as a very occasional watcher, I feel like I know and appreciate Xavi's game more than Messi. Xavi seems he has the ball more with his country and club team's possessions style, and his midfield position demands he can hold the middle of the pitch together. That's not to say Messi doesn't make those exquisite "ohhhh, AHHHHH" moves, but I just feel like he's not involved in the match as much.

Of course, I don't watch soccer nearly enough to actually make any argument as such; merely the observation of a casual watcher.

posted by jmd82 at 10:24 PM on May 22, 2011

It's a pity that TV doesn't show more of the pitch, and then maybe you'd appreciate Messi's involvement a bit more.

When players like Xavi and Iniesta have the ball at their feet, Messi will be (usually out of shot) dragging one or two defenders away, or coming back to pick up the ball, find space and then turn and run at them. As a defender, you're caught between staying in position, or man marking someone who, given an inch of space, will simply glide past you.

He'd be a nightmare to defend against, on or off the ball. And unlike a particular Real Madrid player, he rarely goes missing in action.

posted by owlhouse at 01:05 AM on May 23, 2011

Love this: "One coach said, Don't try to tackle him strong, because maybe you will break him.' And we said, O.K., but don't worry because we cannot catch him.'"

posted by yerfatma at 10:00 AM on May 23, 2011

I love the fact that a guy 5'7" and not a speed merchant can be considered the best in the world in a major sport. Said a guy who is 5'7" and not a speed merchant. All credit to low centers of gravity!

posted by billsaysthis at 03:47 PM on May 23, 2011

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