Jason Kottke has a couple of Lionel Messi posts lately that I loved.
First one: All of Lionel Messi's 234 goals
It begins with a YouTube video reflective of the title. My thoughts:
The first thing that stands out to me is how quick Leo is on the ball. All things being equal, he can put a great touch on the ball more quickly than you can. If you're the goalie, he can beat you one on one before you can react, the ball passing right beside you or even under your legs.
Second, I would love to see sabermetric-style stats on how many of these he made (some quite difficult) when he had an open teammate. And how many he missed taking difficult shots when he could have passed. I love Messi, but he comes off a little selfish here. Of course, we're not watching a video of his assists, which he's also very adept at.
There's a second, almost throwaway, link at the bottom of this post that I like really well, too: Barcelona's secret to soccer success
(And not just because Pep looks positively cuddly in the accompanying photo ;-)
After reading the article, I requested the author's book, Soccernomics. Looking forward to reading it.
Kottke's second post: Lionel Messi documentary
Most of this stuff I'd already read or seen somewhere. But it gets me thinking: To me, the Champions League is the highest level of soccer right now in the world, better than the World Cup. I understand the argument that Messi hasn't won a World Cup yet. He's played twice and his coaches weren't too smart. I'm not saying you have to cater to him, but you'd be wise to make better use of him.
Further, how does the World Cup of the past compare to today? When Pele and Maradona faced England, Spain, Germany, France and the Netherlands, were they teams full of superstars the way they are today? I don't know. But how can Messi beat one of those teams by himself. Sure, you've also got Gonzalo Higuaín and some other guys who aren't bad, but it's just not the same, is it?
Furthermore, you better believe Pele's and Maradona's World Cup teams revolved around them, from coach to the last man on the roster. Maradona, I'm sure, and probably Pele, took control. That's not Messi's personality. He's a much humbler guy when it comes to demanding from his teammates (he's obviously not humble in how he performs on the pitch ;-)