Date:27th May 2011 at 7:33pm
Written by:
Lionel Messi

Not the be all and end all for tomorrow's game

If Barcelona don’t win the Champions League on Saturday night this Lionel Messi bloke is going to have a lot to answer for.

Every article I read, every interview I hear seems to discard any chance of Manchester United beating Barcelona. The reason behind the majority of these claims appears to be one man, one very skilful man, one man with 52 goals this season. But all the same, it’s just one man.

I’m not going to argue Messi is not the best player in the world at the moment as I fully agree with everyone else that he may well be, and is certainly somewhere up at the top at the very least. It took the patience of 76 minutes but Messi eventually ripped Real Madrid apart in the two sides’ first leg semi-final clash, and then did it again before the 90 minutes was up. His success rate this year has been near immaculate with such a high tally of goals scored. However best player or not, the saying still goes “There is no ‘I’ in team”.

Of course I acknowledge the fact Barcelona have an array of talent and other world-class players alongside Messi. I am not debating whether or not Barcelona are actually the best team in the world or not though. I am questioning the fact that many people, so called professionals and average Joes alike, are certain Barcelona will win because they have Messi.

Leave Messi in the team and take away Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets and Villa and I would not see Barcelona as half the threat they are now. Having these players around him allows Messi to play his own game and still have the backing of other world beaters. Without them you would see a different Messi, struggling for space and the ball. To put a whole Champions League’s final on the man’s shoulders is ridiculous.

In the 2009 Champions League final United had Cristiano Ronaldo in their line up to face Barcelona. Ronaldo, the one man who many would see as being able to equate to Messi. One man, who at the time was also in great form, scoring goals for fun. However that night United were trampled by Barcelona with Ronaldo making little impact.

I am not trying to settle the matter of who is the best team in the world. Whilst Barcelona are obvious contenders for that spot I can’t help but think many are rejecting any challenge from United because of Barca’s individuals. The stance seems to be that Lionel Messi makes the world’s best team. However United don’t so much have a team of world-class individuals, more a world-class team. The names Darren Fletcher and Michael Carrick may not quite match the global magnitude of Xavi and Iniesta. Nor would Park Ji-Sung fetch a transfer fee as hefty as Pedro would. But this is not the point.

There is no denying Barcelona have a team of amazing players, many of whom would walk in to any other team on the planet. Nevertheless their opponents on Saturday night have an amazing team. A team of players who all work so well together. A team which has been called the worst United team in a long time, reflected in the fact they could only win the English Premier League by 9 points this season.

Saturday’s monumental match is a difficult one to call but one thing is for sure. Lionel Messi will not single handedly beat a world class team and win the Champions League.

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