Thursday, March 08, 2012

Lionel MESSI-ah is the real deal and this is what people are saying about him today!

LIONEL MESSI enhanced his status as the best footballer of his generation with another record-setting performance for Barcelona last night in the UEFA Champions League.

Barcelona progressed to the quarter-finals of the Champions League with a 7-1 rout of German side Bayer Leverkusen. But that is not what captured the headlines.

Lionel Messi - is he the greatest footballer of all-time?

Barca superstar Lionel Messi turned in a truly historic performance as he became the first player to score five goals in a UEFA Champions League match, as Barcelona thumped Leverkusen at Camp Nou, sealing a 10-2 aggregate win in the last 16 match.

The last player to score five in European football's top club competition was Soren Lerby of Ajax against Omonia in 1979.

Messi has been nothing short of sensational this season, scoring 48 goals in all competitions, including an incredible seven hat-tricks.

Against Leverkusen Messi was unstoppable, scoring twice in the first half and three times after the break to move to 49 Champions League competition goals - joint fourth on the all-time European Cup list alongside Alfredo di Stefano. He is one goal behind Thierry Henry in third place on the all-time list.

With 12 Champions League goals in seven appearances this season, the 24 year-old Argentine forward equalled the Champions League goal record for a single season, held by former Manchester United and Real Madrid striker Ruud van Nistelrooy in 2002-03, and Messi himself, who also scored 12 goals last season.

Here are some post-match quotes following his five star performance last night:

Pep Guardiola, Barcelona coach:
"He's the best [ever] - there is no other like him. Tonight we witnessed one of [Lionel] Messi’s most special nights; watching it was like receiving a gift."

Xavi, Barcelona midfielder:
"He deserves the admiration of any sportsman. He is incomparable, a one-off. There is no other player who can make such a difference — he’ll break all the records."

Cesc Fabregas, Barcelona midfielder:
"He is the best player in football's history and we've never seen anyone like him."

Victor Valdes, Barcelona goalkeeper:
"At the end of the game I had to ask him if he had scored four or five goals."

Robin Dutt, Bayer Leverkusen Coach:
"Without Messi, Barca is the best team. And with him, they are in another galaxy."

Rudi Voller, Bayer Leverkusen sporting director:
"It is not just about his five goals today, he has been showing this already for years," Voller told SAT.1. "He is now in a region with Pele and Maradona."

Eric Cantona:
"I have always thought that Barca’s play was incredible but Messi is exceptional."

"To describe Lionel Messi as a good player, a great player, is a statement so facile as to render it pointless. Such is the utter brilliance of the Barcelona forward, we are not just running out of superlatives, as the old cliché has it, we are running out of ways to say we are running out of superlatives. He is a man for which conventional language is no longer sufficient."

Messi's seven hat-tricks for Barcelona this season have been against:
Osasuna, Atletico Madrid, Real Mallorca, Viktoria Plzen, Malaga, Valencia (4 goals) and Bayern Leverkusen(5 goals).

The million dollar question everybody in the world of football is debating as we speak is whether or not Messi is the greatest football player of all-time?

The simplest and fairest solution is this: Accept that, for each era, there is a footballer who towers above the rest. Pele, Maradona, Zidane and now, unquestionably, Messi.

But we don't need to compare Messi against those other players to understand a blindingly simple truth: The way he plays football, his humble and inventive genius, is an absolute delight to behold.

How lucky we are to live in his time!

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