19 Nov 2012

Lionel Messi on another milestone

Messi’s contributions not only helped Barcelona maintain its unbeaten start to the Spanish league season – his two goals setting up last Saturday’s 3-1 victory over Real Zaragoza – but also propelled him to within seven goals of matching Gerd Muller’s world record for goals in a calendar year.Muller, the great striker who won a World Cup, European Championship and four West German titles during his career with West Germany and Bayern Munich, scored 85 goals in 1972. Messi, with a maximum of eight matches left in 2012, has 78.Barcelona takes on Spartak Moscow on Tuesday in European Champions League play.Messi’s most recent strikes were typical Messi goals, if there is such a thing for a player with such a broad range of skills and few obvious flaws.

The first came after he exchanged passes with teammate Jordi Alba before taking a perfect touch and almost casually clipping the ball into the net. For his second, which came after assisting Alex Song on Barcelona’s second goal, Messi made a difficult skill look simple, curling the ball into the net from 20 yards to leave the Zaragoza goalkeeper, Roberto Jimenez, with no chance of making a save.As Messi, the 25-year-old Argentina forward, closes on Muller’s record, it is fair to ask whose achievement is greater?In terms of the number of games needed to reach the milestone, Messi – whose appearance last Saturday was his 61st of the year  has already exceeded Muller’s 60 matches from 1972.If Messi requires until his final match – a league game at Real Valladolid on Dec. 22 – to break Muller’s record, it will have taken him nine more matches to surpass Muller, who was also in his mid-20s when he set the mark.

But it is not as straightforward as suggesting the number of appearances alone prove Muller’s achievement was the more impressive, particularly because 12 of his goals in 1972 came in five games in an obscure and short-lived competition, the DFB-Ligapokal (German League Cup).With the Olympic Games in Munich that year, the start of the 1972-73 Bundesliga season was delayed until mid-September, so the league cup was created to fill the gap and provide teams with competitive matches to help generate income.Bayern Munich did not initially take the competition seriously, sending out a weaker team in its opening match, with most of the team’s superstars – Muller included – absent. This enraged a crowd of 10,000, who had paid to watch Bayern’s celebrated first-team players. A photographer even filed a fraud lawsuit against the club.Messi has already smashed Muller’s record of 67 goals in a single European season – scoring 73 times during the 2011-12 season. He is also Barcelona’s career scoring leader.But with eight more goals in his final eight games, Messi can achieve perhaps the ultimate goal-scoring feat.

No comments:

Post a Comment