No Messi’n

Lucky enough to see FC Barcelona with 91,000 others under the stars at the Nou Camp on Saturday evening. With Barca clear of Real’s galacticos and both well clear of the rest we weren’t sure if they would field their star team against lowly Getafe, but we needn’t have feared. Starting line-up included Messi, Iniesta, Villa, Xavi, Alves, Macherano. Iniesta had an off-day – so many incomplete passes – David Villa showed how frustratingly one-footed he is for a winger, but the rest did not disappoint. Xavi and Macherano ran the show, Alves and the other full-back-winger ran miles (with the ball); Alves and Bojan scored, but Barca should have had 5 or 6 if they’d bothered to shoot and a couple of pens before Getafe’s consolation made for an unexpectedly exciting final ten minutes. Mostly felt like an exhibition match, despite the 2:1 result.

The great thing about seeing a game like that live is the venue and event itself, choosing what to watch – unlike the editorial “action” as seen on TV – or the thick of the competitive action watching the team you actively support – and it was hard not to watch Messi. Plenty of other “tourists” taking photos, wearing the No.10 shirt and doing the same.

Messi is one of a kind. There were periods of many minutes at a time where he barely plodded three paces in any direction, others when you’d notice he’d apparently sprinted / ghosted into another position. Always receiving passes from team-mates already surrounded by three or more opponents, and always stumbling effortlessly free to find three more to beat before getting bored and either passing or returning to take on the first three again if no opportunity presented. Childlike, almost comedic bright orange feet and baggy shorts on the little man. Deceptive.

(As well as minute’s silence for the Japan earthquake fall-out, a full three minutes pre-match applause for Abidal undergoing three-hour surgery on a liver tumour in the same week.)

Weird, after being mesmerized by Messi, I don’t have a single shot of him in the 20-odd pics I took. Still, a good weekend to lose yourself at the Nou Camp instead of the Stadium of Light ? Coincidentally, lots of Liverpool fans on the A19 driving south from Sunderland on our way home from NCL airport.

Interestingly last time I mentioned Messi was a reference to this piece by Robbo. Worth a read.

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