And, while there was no goal from Messi, his first failure to score in 11 games for his club, the Barca star still produced a masterclass in incisive possession football, supplying two wonderful assists for both of Villa's second-half goals. As his erstwhile competitor for the title of the world's most best player, Cristiano Ronaldo, postured pointlessly, indulged in stepovers and became embroiled in a spat with Pep Guardiola, Messi, in his usual understated style, did what he does best: tear teams apart.It was interesting to see Xavi taking runs at the goal and Messi dropping back and distributing from a deeper role, a bit like the two periodically switched places. I don't remember that happening at all during the disappointing elimination at the hand's of Mourinho's Inter last spring, and not coincidentally Messi had little impact on either match. It seems as though that tactic was something Guardiola had up his sleeve to prevent a repeat performance from Mourinho's new club. But whatever the tactical reasons...5-0! What fun.
In fact, on this evidence, Ronaldo is not the best player on the globe. Nor is he the second or third. In Messi, Iniesta and Xavi, Barcelona possess three players who will be among the all-time greats when the history books are written. Watching them combine in such intuitive and mesmeric style is a treat.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
And All Is Right in the World
It would be hard to point a more enjoyably impressive 90 minutes of spectating in recent years than Barça's destruction of Real. Reading the post-game commentary was almost as enjoyable: