Lionel Messi is without doubt one of the best players in the world if not the most talented at the moment. Messi has been in scintillating form the last couple of years having scored 38 goals in 51 appearances in all competitions in the 2008/09 season. He also had 18 assists in those 51 matches while he managed 23 goals in 31 La Liga matches.
Messi did even better in 2009/10 season scoring 47 goals and assisting on 14 others in 53 matches in all competitions. The Argentina star had a remarkably tally of 34 goals in 35 La Liga matches. In the current campaign, Messi has already scored 13 goals in just 10 matches and his stunning tally is only inferior to Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo who scored 14 goals so far in the Spanish league. However, Ronaldo played in two more games in the league and his total number of goals in all contests is inferior to that of Messi. The Argentina forward scored 23 goals in just 18 games this season compared to Ronaldo’s 18 goals in 19 matches.
There is not doubt all eyes will be on the dangerous duo and some have gone as far as billing the clash as a ‘Messi versus Ronaldo’ contest but this is quite inaccurate as the two stars will not be facing each other on the field due to their attacking nature. This means Messi will not be responsible for marking Ronaldo and vice versa. Both teams have other key players who can influence the match such as Xavi in case of Barca and Gonzalo Higuain for Real Madrid.
Prior to this highly anticipated match against Los Blancos, Messi scored a hat-trick against Almeria last weekend and followed up his heroics with a goal in the Champions League in mid-week in Athens against Panathinaikos. There is no doubt Messi has been an absolute magician for Barcelona in the last few season and his club record backs up the fact he is perhaps the best club player on the planet. Messi scored a hat-trick against Real Madrid in El Clasico in the 2006-07 season to prove he can shine on the big occasion as well.
Some have questioned his form for Argentina but he managed to score in the 4-1 win over the World Cup champions Spain in September. However, he went one better by scoring a late winner against Brazil on November 18 in a friendly in Qatar. This is Messi’s first win over the Selecao and for him to secure the win with a sublime finish can only do wonders to his confidence. This winner for Argentina could be the goal Messi has been missing not just to take his international career to the next level but also to continue his stunning and torrid scoring record with Barca.
The main question will be whether Messi will be able to score against Los Blancos in El Clasico to add to his impressive resume. (Please check http://www.laligatalk.com/messi-versus-ronaldo/1881 for a previous piece written on Messi & Ronaldo)