Lionel Messi has come in for some absurd criticism in the wake of Barcelona‘s Champions League win over Dynamo Kiev on Wednesday at the Camp Nou.
The captain scored the opening goal from the penalty spot in the 2-1 victory that made it three wins out of three for Barcelona in the Champions League 2020-21. Messi’s goal was his fourth of the season and indeed all of his strikes so far have come from the penalty spot.
The captain’s lack of goals from open play is curious given his usual prolific nature and shows he’s clearly still searching for his best form. Yet fans have also taken aim at the Argentine for his work-rate against Dynamo Kiev.
Follow the Heavy on Barcelona Facebook page for the latest breaking news, rumors and content!
Messi ‘Walking’ Clip Prompts Debate
A video clip has been all over social media showing Messi failing to press a Dynamo Kiev defender during the match and simply strolling back towards his own half instead. The clip has provoked much debate on Twitter and seen plenty of criticism directed at the Barca captain.
Yet context is key in this incidence and seems to have been lost along the way. The clip is from the 93rd minute of the match with just seconds left to play, while Barca had every single outfield player behind the ball.
Barcelona fans took to Twitter to defend their captain.
It’s also not news to see Messi walking on the pitch. Indeed Twitter account Pausa Football analyzed the tactics in a thread and discovered Messi’s walking allowed the captain to hold space in “high value” areas of the pitch.
Former boss Ernesto Valverde also spoke about Messi strolling on the pitch in an interview with the Financial Times. The ex-Barca boss said Messi often walked at the start of game to try and suss out the opposition, “then, as the game advances, he gets in little by little. But he knows perfectly where the rivals’ weaknesses are.”
Messi Hits Another Record
Amid all the talk about Messi it’s worth noting that he also made more history on Wednesday. His appearance was his 150th in UEFA competitions, and his goal was a record in the group stages of the Champions League.
Messi is inching ever closer to Pele’s record for most goals scored for a single club in football history. The Brazilian legend leads the way on 643, while Messi is now on 638 and has the prestigious record in sight.
The 33-year-old is expected to start again on Saturday and will have the chance to add to his tally when Barcelona return to action against Real Betis at the Camp Nou. The game is Barca’s last before the season pauses for the international break.
Yet there’s no rest for Messi who has played every minute for club and country so far this season. The 33-year-old is due to head off on international duty with Argentina for World Cup qualifiers against Paraguay and Peru.