Posts Tagged ‘Lionel Messi’

CNN World Sport: Champions League review

I made a fleeting appearance on CNN’s World Sport programme on Wednesday to look back at Tuesday’s Champions League matches – you can watch it here. Fans of unkempt beards and wild hand gestures are in for a treat.

Report: Messi squanders chance to cement legacy

“Whereas Maradona seemed to grow with each match as Argentina surged to the title in 1986, scoring braces against England and Belgium in the quarter-finals and semi-finals, Messi appeared to shrink. After dazzling in the group phase with four goals, he made the winning goal for Ángel di María against Switzerland in the last 16, but in his own encounter with Belgium he flickered only sporadically, and in the semi-final against the Netherlands he was anonymous. Messi has now gone four games without scoring for the first time under the stewardship of coach Alejandro Sabella, misplacing his gift for making a difference at precisely the wrong time.”

My final report for AFP from the World Cup, on a disappointing end to the tournament for Lionel Messi, can be read here.

Feature: Messi one step from undisputed greatness

“In his 91 appearances, [Diego] Maradona played at four World Cups and carried Argentina to two finals, turning the 1986 tournament into his own one-man show. In contrast, Messi, as Holland coach Louis van Gaal observed, “hasn’t always pulled it off” at international level. So should he drift through the final, as he did the semi-final, but still end up a champion, can he be said to have matched Maradona? Judged against the lofty standards that Messi’s talent demands, the trophy alone may not suffice.”

Why Lionel Messi needs a signature performance in the World Cup final before he can be considered a true great. Piece here for AFP.

Report: Higuaín fires Argentina into World Cup semi-finals

“Brasília (Brazil) (AFP) – Gonzalo Higuaín smashed home an early goal as Argentina dashed the World Cup dreams of much-fancied Belgium with a 1-0 win in the quarter-finals in Brasília on Saturday.”

My AFP match report from the Estádio Nacional Mané Garrincha can be read here.

Reaction: Angry Wilmots derides ‘ordinary’ Argentina
Analysis: Higuaín, the Valdano to Messi’s Maradona?
Analysis: Hazard flops, but hope springs for Belgium

Feature: Belgium tie sharpens Messi-Maradona focus

“Maradona was said to have carried Argentina to glory in Mexico, scoring five goals and laying on five assists as his country claimed their second title, and 28 years on, Messi is doing the same in Brazil. Having scored four goals in the group phase, Messi’s creative side came to the fore in Tuesday’s last-16 win over Switzerland in São Paulo. While his team-mates toiled around him, Messi was a ceaseless hub of invention, and with penalties looming, it was his burrowing run and pass that allowed Angel Di María to stroke home the 118th-minute winner. In total, Messi carved out eight chances against Switzerland, which is more than any Argentine player – Maradona included – has ever created in a single World Cup game.”

A piece for AFP, on the ghost that will stalk Lionel Messi in Saturday’s World Cup quarter-final against Belgium, can be read here.

Report: Messi magic gets Argentina up and running

“Rio de Janeiro (AFP) – Lionel Messi scored a trademark individual goal as Argentina opened their World Cup campaign with a narrow 2-1 win over Bosnia-Hercegovina at Rio de Janeiro’s renovated Maracanã on Sunday.”

My AFP report on the night Messi illuminated the Maracanã can be read here.

Related link: Shot-shy Rooney gives Hodgson England dilemma

Report: Messi, Alves give Barca edge over 10-man City

“MANCHESTER, United Kingdom (AFP) — Goals by Lionel Messi and Dani Alves saw Barcelona take control of their  Champions League last 16 tie against Manchester City with a 2-0 win in Tuesday’s  first leg.”

My AFP report on a night of regrets for Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium can be read here.

Reaction: Pellegrini turns on referee as Man City lose to Barcelona

Pitchside Europe: European Team of the Season

“Zlatan Ibrahimović enjoyed his most prolific season to date with Milan, Bayern Munich’s Mario Gómez plundered goals with remarkable consistency, and Falcao shot Atletico Madrid to Europa League glory, but Huntelaar outscored them all. The Dutchman’s sparkling partnership with Raúl fired Schalke to Champions League qualification and with 29 goals, he trailed only Messi, Ronaldo and Robin van Persie in the running for the European Golden Shoe.”

Pitchside Europe signed off for the 2011-2012 campaign by selecting a team of the season from players plying their trade outside the English Premier League. You can see the team (and then vent your spleen about my preposterous selections) here.

Pitchside Europe: Why do Messi and Ronaldo score so many goals?

“Last season they both scored 53 goals for their respective clubs. Since Ronaldo joined Madrid in 2009, he has scored 126 goals in 127 games. Over the same period, Messi has scored 150 goals in 151 games. The diminishing goals-per-game ratio at the World Cup — an established barometer for long-term football trends — proves that the sport is becoming more defensive, and yet Messi and Ronaldo are scoring at a faster rate by the season. So what’s the secret?”

My latest Pitchside Eurosport blog for Eurosport, on why Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are able to score goals at such a strikingly anachronistic rate, can be read here.

Pitchside Europe: European team of the season so far

“With Europe’s major leagues closing down for the winter break, Pitchside Europe selects a team of players who have distinguished themselves in the season to date.”

My final Pitchside Europe blog of the year 2011 looks at the stand-out players from the first half of the 2011-12 season in Europe’s major leagues. You can read it here.

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