Report: Lionel Messi started the season with Argentina's national team at the World Cup, but it didn't go as he and his teammates had planed. Misused in Diego Maradona's system Messi didn't have a very good tournament and the Albiceleste crashed out of the competition in the quarter-finals.
Leo returned to the more familiar surroundings of Barcelona where he picked up where he ended last season; scoring goals. In his first start of the season (against Sevilla in the Supercopa de España) he netted a hat-trick. A sign that Messi is just better than the Argentian newspapers wanted the world to believe.
In the fourth game of the season Messi went down in pain after a horrific tackle by Tomáš Ujfaluši and Barcelona fans around the world were fearing the worst; a long term injury. La Pulga had to miss a couple games, but Messi made a quick recovery and it seemed he hadn't lost a step. Every single game Leo appeared to invent a new way to embarrass his opposition and he was doing a pretty good job at it. It made no difference if he was man-marked, triple-teamed on unmarked - he always found a way to get to the goals.
He went on to break Barcelona's single season goalscoring record (in all competitions) and tied the all-time Champions League mark at 12 (shared with Ruud van Nistelrooy). He became only the sixth player who has managed to win the Football of the year award (now FIFA Ballon d'Or) in consecutive years and only the ninth player who has been named player of the year on more than on occasion. With all the other awards it sneaked under the radar that Messi also won the Alfredo di Stefano award for best La Liga player of the season, the third year in a row.
Whenever Barcelona needed somebody to organize the team they turned to Xavi, but when the team needed a move that turned the game in Barca's direction they went to Messi who was there (almost) every single time. His stats are simply ridiculous and early signs indicate Lionel might become only the fourth player to win the Ballon d'Or three times.
Moment of the season: Of all the Barcelona players on the roster picking Leo's moment of the season was by far the most difficult one. It's not an easy task to go through 53 goals and other highlights. In the end I went with the goal that all but decided the Champions League semi-final tie against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu. Messi picked up the ball 35 yards out and slalomed his way through Real's defense to the goal where he beat Iker Casillas to the far side. It was one of if not the best goal of the season.
Real Madrid vs Fc Barcelona 0-2 Semi Final Champions League (via akrajai1)
|Started on the bench||8
|Shots on goal||127
Record with Lionel Messi in the starting lineup: 35-8-5
2011/12 Outlook: What to expect from Messi? Well, he will continue to play at an "out of this world" level which should lead to more records. Messi wants to play and not even Guardiola will get him off the pitch and as a result Leo will produce unbelievable numbers not just next season, but for several years to come. It will be interesting to see if consecutive seasons of 60+ games played (national team included) will affect Messi's form with Barcelona, but if past seasons have been any indication Leo won't have any problems with the high workload.
Next up: David Villa
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