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Lionel Messi breaks records, but only because he needs to.
- Updated: 20 March, 2012
Lionel Messi has entered history. Again.
On Monday night, news broke that La Vanguardia, in conjunction with FC Barcelona, had conducted a review of official records. The outcome was that César, (Barcelona’s now former all time top goal-scorer ) had scored 232, not 235 goals in official competitions as previously thought. We could be forgiven for thinking that Lionel Messi was grinning ear to ear when he heard, but rather, I’d bet it was of little consequence.
You see, Lionel Messi scores because he has to, for his team, not because he wants to break records. Yet that’s exactly why he breaks them. Tonight Messi decided a hat-trick was necessary to help Barcelona to victory, and so it proved to be. The Argentine started out by equalling César’s record only minutes after the opening whistle had blown. Then he went quiet, by his standards, for a while. Then he decided enough was enough.
In the early moments of the second half, Barcelona had somehow managed to put themselves under pressure after looking unassailable. In a game that couldn’t have started better for the home team, Granada scored two against all odds. The first, a sublime header from a brilliant free-kick delivery, the second, a controversial penalty (of which there was to be more). It was not to last, Messi had other ideas. His team needed him.
Messi new scoring again was required, and so he did. How else but with a sublime chip, putting his team ahead and setting a new record? He still wasn’t done. Soon after, Leo rifled a shot off Granada’s keeper, aptly named Cesar, who could only parry to Tello. The latest Barcelona wunderkind finished with aplomb, and Barcelona were now firmly ahead. But not firmly enough. Not for Messi.
The number 10 then decided he wanted a hat-trick, too, and so he got it. This time, he rounded Cesar, and still had time to cut back onto his favoured left foot before slotting home.
Hat-trick, new new record, and one very relieved team as it was to be: Granada got yet another penalty to take the tie to 5-3. Had Messi not scored his third, the pressure on Barcelona (with ten men after Alves was sent walking) would have been immense. Thankfully, Lionel Messi spared them that inconvenience.
It’s tempting to say that the footballing gods made sure the stars aligned tonight, that Messi would break the record, do so with a signature chip, and grab a hat-trick to pull further ahead.
Except, there are no “footballing gods”. If a deity exists in football, it’s in the singular, not plural, and his name is Lionel Messi.