All Hail the King … King Lionel Messi

It is difficult to find the right word to describe the latest edition of the most watched derby dubbed the “El Clasico”. I am sure everyone reading this would agree that all the weekends’ global football activities all paled in comparison to the game at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in Spain.

Not even the heroics of the Supersports United goalkeeper in ensuring that Kaizer Chiefs are dumped out of the Nedbank Cup can compare to this match. I mean not even Arsenal’s rising from the grave to dump out Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City from the FA Cup was enough to upstage this game.

The El Clasico really lived up to the expectation and the two protagonists, Real Madrid and Barcelona, dished out the perfect desert to top up a perfect global football meal that was dished out over the weekend.

Not even the heroics of the SuperSport United goalkeeper in ensuring that Kaizer Chiefs are dumped out of the Nedbank Cup can compare to this match. I mean not even Arsenal’s rising from the grave to dump out Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City from the FA Cup was enough to upstage this game.

The El Clasico really lived up to the expectation and the two protagonists, Real Madrid and Barcelona, dished out the perfect desert to top up a perfect global football meal that was dished out over the weekend.

The El Clasico really lived up to the expectation and the two protagonists, Real Madrid and Barcelona, dished out the perfect desert to top up a perfect global football meal that was dished out over the weekend.

Every El Clasico serves as a perfect opportunity to what is, arguably, the fascinating football debate in world football at the moment. That debate is, who the best between Messi and Ronaldo is. Over the past ten years, every one of these matches has become more than just which team takes the three points it is about proving which one of these two comes out tops.

It is often hard to notice the heroics of the likes of Pique, Sergio Ramos, Sergio Busquets, Marcelo and the so forth. Up to now, this debate has not been won as it still rages on and adds to the passion and excitement that this global spectacle dishes.

In this instalment of El Clasico, one cannot but be humbled by a phenomenal performance from the little Argentinian maestro. As hard as Ronaldo tried to do what he is known for he just failed to match the high standards we are all used to from him. Coming from a superb performance against Bayern Munich in the champions’ league where he scored a hat-trick of goals, everyone was expecting the Portuguese genius to continue with his blazing form.

However, he failed to light up the occasion and never looked like troubling the Barcelona defenders as he normally does. When he ballooned a sure goal scoring opportunity from an excellent run and superb pass from the new kid on the block in Madrid, Marco Asensio, one knew it was not his night. On the other hand, the little man from Barcelona played one of the games of his life to knock the stuffing out of Real Madrid and propel the Catalan giants to the same number of points

On the other hand, the little man from Barcelona played one of the games of his life to knock the stuffing out of Real Madrid and propel the Catalan giants to the same number of points in the Premier Liga log as their bitter rivals. He took a bad blow from Marcelo’s elbow that went unpunished which left him with a blood dripping mouth. However, instead of giving up as many of ordinary players might have done he became an unstoppable demon.

He harassed the Madrid backline at will and often toyed with them. It was no coincidence that the Real Madrid skipper, Sergio Ramos, was shown a red card for a two-footed lunge on him. At this stage, Barcelona was leading by 2-1 and even the greatest Madrid fan felt that Barcelona have it in the bag especially with the man that everyone calls the “God of Football” having what I earlier called the game of his life.

Little did we know that Zidane will pull off a masterstroke by sending on James Rodrigues who equalized with less than five minutes on the pitch sending the Santiago Bernabeu into a frenzy. For Madrid, a draw would have been an acceptable result, especially after the red card. When 2 minutes of additional time being shown on the 4th official’s board all Madrid fans must have been saying that, under the circumstances, one point from this match was like gold.

It is then that Messi put the final stamp on the game and proved his mettle leaving the Bernabeu and many watching across the globe stunned and bewildered. I am sure even the staunchest of Madrid fans, for at least this moment, would have applauded the genius of this Football Phenomenon.

When Madrid, with less than 20 seconds left of additional, time lost the ball deep in the Barcelona half the men from Cataluna launched a magically fast counter attack on the out of position Madrid defenders. In a frenzied display of the now famous “transition football” mode, the ball took less than the 20 seconds to end in the back of the Madrid net.

Who else but the world famous Barcelona jersey number 10, Leonard Messi scored this incredible goal that left the entire football world stunned. If there was a doubt about the genius of the man than this match has gone a long way to prove that indeed Messi is the God of Football.

However, I know that debate about who is the real football God of our era will rage on but you are as good as your last game and on this performance, the crown is with Messi. His celebration certainly matched the occasion. All Hail the King.

By Andile Bhanqo Namntu