Sport Despite growing workload, Messi continues to deliver on biggest stage
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doesn't need much introduction. He's one of the greatest players to ever grace a pitch, and an attraction who brings thousands of tourists to Barcelona each year. He's the soul of this great era at the Camp Nou, and always the envy of managers in the opposing dugout.
Asked whylost to in the Champions League round of 16 on Wednesday, defender simply , "They have Lionel Messi."
The diminutive Argentine has always featured prominently for the Catalan outfit - the sheen on his game never wore off - but this season has been different. Messi is creating from deeper positions, stretching defences out wide, and making a difference in the penalty area.
Barcelona fear rivals could meet Messi’s €700m release clause
A top official at the Camp Nou club has described the current market situation as "crazy" and refused to make any guarantees about the futureThe Argentine committed his future to the club in November after coming perilously close to the time at which he could have started to negotiate with other sides, given his previous deal was up in June 2018.
He was clinical in the latest tie, scoring off three of his four shots against Chelsea to single-handedly swing the result in Barcelona's favour. But while the goals were important, Messi's assist tocaptured the very best of his game. The 30-year-old won possession in midfield, eluded defenders as he roared downfield on the counter-attack, and then spotted the Frenchman with an incisive pass through the middle of the 18-yard box. He did all of this against his so-called bogey team, having been shut out in eight previous appearances against the Blues.
If not for Messi's contributions, Chelsea would've had a legitimate chance of advancing. The Blues pushed Barcelona as much as they could over two legs, and on Wednesday in particular, as the Blaugrana eschewed tradition by ceding swaths of possession to the visitor. The Camp Nou, a longtime theatre for tiki-taka, is now playing host to a more ruthless Barcelona side - one that's doing damage with fewer passes. Opponents are suffering fewer deaths by a million cuts, and instead more swift blows to the gut. And Messi is usually the one delivering them.
'Very difficult' to see Messi in the Premier League, says Busquets
While the Argentine has been linked in particular with a reunion with Pep Guardiola's Man City, his team-mate believes he will not move to EnglandArgentina forward Messi was absent as Barca beat Malaga at the weekend as his wife gave birth to their third child Ciro, but he will return for Wednesday's Champions League last-16 second leg against the Blues.
He's had to take on a greater workload as a result of the change in tactics, and it's a burden he's content to carry. Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde's switch to a 4-4-2 formation made the team more compact, but it also liberated Messi. His touches on the ball have increased, sometimes ranging between 100 and 150 per match, which are the kind of gaudy numbers that midfield metronomeused to register. Messi's taking on multiple jobs, running the midfield while preserving enough energy to join the attack. His pace is an underappreciated part of his repertoire, and it's helped him execute Valverde's orders.
The manager has achieved a happy medium here. It's difficult to preach a more defensive philosophy at a club like Barcelona, considering its illustrious history of attacking football, but he knew it could be done with Messi around. And the star has certainly kept audiences enthralled while Valverde prioritises fundamentals. All the talk Wednesday was about Messi's brilliance, not Barcelona's 29 clean sheets in 46 matches this season. If there's been any void left in attack, Messi has filled it.
Messi expects heavy criticism if Argentina doesn't win World Cup
Lionel Messi will turn 35 during the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.The fleet-footed forward's international career has been tainted by heartache. The Albiceleste lost in extra-time to Germany in the final of the previous World Cup in 2014, and the two following summers each yielded runner-up finishes at the Copa America via painful penalty-shootout defeats to Chile.
"This type of player, there is one born in every 50 years," Chelsea manger Antonio Conte said after Wednesday's match, according to. "We are talking about one single player with this capacity, with this ability, with these skills. He's fantastic. For sure, we are talking about a player who is able to move the final result for the team for whom he is playing."
Messi's had to anchor this team as if it's Argentina, doing all the leg work to keep the attack humming. The national team has long relied on Messi's match-winning abilities, and only reached the upcoming 2018 World Cup because of his timely hat-trick againstin the final round of qualifiers. It's the same now at Barcelona, which is asking Messi to be what he is: one of the greatest players of all time.
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Argentina equal worst ever defeat with horror show in Spain .
With Lionel Messi watching on from the stands, Jorge Sampaoli's side were torn apart in Madrid by an Isco-inspired home sideWith Lionel Messi still sidelined, the Albiceleste were put to the sword by Spain, with Isco's hat trick leading La Roja to a dominant 6-1 victory.
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