Lionel Messi is one of the best players, if not the best, the world has ever seen. There will be debates and arguments as some may prefer players like Cristiano Ronaldo, Diego Maradona and Pele, but there is something magical about Messi, which gives us a feeling of awe when he is on the football pitch.
There have been a number of match-winning performances from Messi for Barcelona, and the latest being against Real Madrid in El Clasico 2017 on Sunday. He scored two goals, including his late-winner, which sealed the game for Barcelona, who went on to win the match 3-2.
Messi's performance was not all about the goals, much more than that, his dedication and hunger to succeed stood out. He is a born leader, and it goes without saying, Messi, like other players, hates losing. Agreed, most hate losing, but when it comes to Messi, he has that special ability to take everything on his shoulder and inspire his team to victory.
Against Real on Sunday, it was the home team, who started well, and Messi was not enjoying much of the ball. Messi was coming back to his own half, sometimes, to collect the ball and build some moves. It is such characteristics, which sets him apart.
Messi looked a huge threat when he had the ball on his feet, dribbling past players with utter ease. The Real players surrounded him when the ball was with him, but he was simply unstoppable during his bursts of pace as well.
Messi was also caught by Marcelo's arm in the 21st minute on his face, and there was blood coming out of his mouth. Messi was taken to the touchline after that incident, and returned to the match with gauze in his mouth.
Though he might have been facing problems on the pitch with the gauze coming out of his mouth as well, he had no problems with the ball on his feet. That gauze did not look good, it might have made him uncomfortbale as well, but it did not worry Messi, who had other bigger problems to deal as Barcelona had gone a goal down.
What does Messi do next?
Score a goal. It is not only a goal, but some wonderful body movement, which helps him find the net. With just few touches outside the six yard box, he beat around three defenders, and slotted the ball home in some style. That goal, in real time, might resemble simplicity, but the more we look at it, it has class written all over it.
Throughout the game, he was tightly marked, but my boy, did he not bamboozle the Real defenders with his quick feet and movement, which was on display.
With scores tied at 2-2, and just two minutes of added time left, one might have resigned to the fact of the El Clacico being a draw. But then, when you have a hungry player like Messi on the pitch, anything is possible, and he showed it with a late goal. It was the final play in the match, which drove his team towards a huge victory.
He has scored such goals a number of times, but coming against Real Madrid, it is extra special, and that too the winning goal, it is an icing on the cake as well. Oh yes, it was his 500th goal for Barcelona in all competitions as well.
You do not score 500 goals for a club, just by your skills, it is also about dedication and practising the sport to become a better player. Messi has done that, and he is not done yet, which looks scary for other teams around the world.