Since his five goals against Bayer Leverkusen, Lionel Messi has been rightly lauded for his brilliance – but his supporting cast have been slightly overshadowed.
There is no argument over Messi’s ability, he is clearly one of the best players the world has ever seen, but it is the team he is in that allows him to do what he does.
While the little magician is still at Barcelona there will always be questions over whether he would be as effective as he currently is.
That is not his fault though and it would be absurd to criticise him for just being in a good side, but the facilitators to his genius deserve their plaudits.
It wasn’t so long ago that the Daily Mail suggested Xavi was not one of the best players in the world – it was a joke but it wasn’t so unusual for people to dismiss a player such as him to be one of the world’s best.
If Messi is the pinnacle of this great Barca side, then Xavi is the foundations of their success. This is not to mention Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets, Cesc Fabregas and Pedro – all players of the highest quality who make Messi’s job far easier.
The importance of a good supporting cast is highlighted by the contrast between Messi’s form for the Catalan club and Argentina, where he has not been nearly so effective.
This is not to say that the Argentine national team do not have good players, they do, they have a number of them, but the concerted efforts of all at Nou Camp have allowed Messi to blossom into the player he is.
It doesn’t only apply to Messi; Barcelona’s great rivals Real Madrid suffer a similar affliction where Cristiano Ronaldo is involved.
It is incredible to think that the travails of one player can eclipse the likes of Kaka, Karim Benzema and Mesut Ozil – it is testament to a player’s brilliance that he is able to overshadow such glittered stars.
Turning the spotlight on Robin van Persie at Arsenal, there is a definite sense that he is the talisman of the team and many believe the Gunners would not be nearly as good without him.
It is difficult to argue that point but it also seems to undervalue the work of those around him – most notably Theo Walcott, who has become the brunt of many disgruntled fans’ ire recently.
This is despite the fact that a large number of Van Persie’s goals have come from Walcott assists. There are also the through-balls from Tomas Rosicky, Mikel Arteta and Alex Song.
At the risk of sounding clichéd, this game is a team game and nobody gets anywhere by themselves, even the greatest need a board to spring from.
Every team has a star player and there is nothing wrong with toasting a person for producing consistent moments of quality and skill.
A quality player will undoubtedly improve a team, maybe even taking them to the next level, but they do so with a bunk up from their team-mates.
So the next time we raise our glasses to one of football’s superstars, let us say a word or give a nod to those facilitators who lay the track for our idols.
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