Sorry, but it was really tempting. Judging by the number of these articles out there, it’s a really hot topic (again!), and there’s never a better time to get on the bandwagon. We thought long and hard as to why Argentina Messi is so different from Barca Messi despite looking remarkably similar. And when we say “long and hard”, we even considered the possibility of an evil clone who has locked up the real one in the basement. Anything as sensible as “he’s the same, but he can’t be 11 players all at once” was immediately rejected on account of it being much too sensible for our taste. So here goes – our seven reasons why Messi is not his usual brilliant self for Argentina.
1. Leo expects his teammates to pitch in a bit
Messi can be totally unreasonable sometimes. Like when he passes the ball to a teammate and expects them to hold on to it for a couple of seconds without gifting it to the opposition. It’s totally inexplicable why the best player in the world can’t just keep posession for 90 minutes and score four or five goals while at it. Pfft.
2. He keeps tripping on himself.
This is always a setback. Ask Bojan. We’ve already established that it’s easier to score a goal when a player is vertical than when the player is horizontal. Something about playing for Argentina is causing impaired balance. It might have something to do with half the weight of the world on his shoulders.
3. He attempts to send free kicks to the neighboring planet
Remember when Leo scored a goal off a free kick for Barca last season? And Maradona was darned thrilled about it because he claimed he made Messi practice his free kicks all the time? Well, let’s just say that Maradona will think twice about claiming credit next time around. It might have been a sudden optical illusion that caused Leo to think the goal net was on the moon, but if anyone finds a small football traveling in space at terminal velocity, they know where it came from.
<no video included, much too painful. Just search for it on youtube, where hundreds of gleeful Cristiano Ronaldo fans have done the needful.>
4. Leo doesn’t fit into Argentina System
You know how the Barca system works. The current Argentina system established by Batista is a little different, where a number of players attempt to collect the ball around the midfield area and then run straight at the goal with their head down at enormous pace, tripping on slightest contact with the first defender on the way. Lavezzi has pioneered this approach. Messi? Not so much. He still needs more time to fit in.
5. Leo likes to stay close to Gabi Milito
We can’t think of any other reason why he hangs out on the pitch along with Gabi and Masche, instead of where he really ought to be to score a goal or two. Maybe Batista can switch Gabi and Tevez to keep Messi in position. It’s not like Gabi is doing much defending anyway, and Tevez can always do his lamppost imitation at the back.
6. Leo can’t play with his usual child-like enthusiasm
We all know how Leo likes to play with happy abandon, like a young kid playing the game he loves in his backyard. Except this backyard has a lot of nosy neighbors booing him while doing it, which is always a bit unpleasant and can make any happy kid a little off his game.
7. Leo listens to Batista
And that is a grave mistake. The best approach to Batista would be to nod your head vigourously when he talks and then do your own thing on the field. Batista wouldn’t know a tactic even if you hit him over the head with it, and following his advice can cause what is often referred to as the headless chicken syndrome, where players expend most energy running rapidly all over the ground with minimal effect (or any darned idea what to do with the ball once they get it).