All the talk in the build-up to Tuesday night’s Champions League clash at Stamford Bridge was about Lionel Messi’s poor record against Chelsea.
The Barcelona maestro had failed to score against the Premier League side in eight appearances since 2006 - and that record probably would have stretched to nine had Andreas Christensen not passed the ball across the face of his own goal in the 75th minute.
Andres Iniesta intercepted Christensen’s calamitous pass after Cesar Azpilicueta failed to connect with the ball; the Spaniard rolled it to Messi, who made no mistake from just inside the penalty area.
Messi doesn’t miss chances like those - not even against Chelsea - and the five-time Ballon d’Or winner inevitably proved that, to him, the Blues are just another team to increase his phenomenal career goals tally against.
The monkey is finally off his back - and that away goal could prove huge in deciding which of the two sides progresses to the Champions League quarter-finals.
Following the match, which finished 1-1, Gary Lineker, Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard all purred over Messi’s display.
This wouldn’t even find a place in Messi’s top 100 career performances but even when he’s ‘average’ by his own ridiculously high standards, he’s still incredible to watch.
Rio makes a superb point about Messi
During the post-match discussion, Ferdinand - who knows what it’s like to go head-to-head against arguably the greatest footballer of all time - made a superb point about Barça’s legendary No. 10.
The former Manchester United defender said Messi plays the game as if he’s seeing everything in slow-motion - a bit like Neo from The Matrix - and that’s what makes him such a brilliant player.
“I just feel that in his own eyes and his own vision, the game just slows down for him,” Ferdinand commented. “He plays in slow-mo because it comes to him so easy and so naturally.
“Everyone’s so fast, erratic when it comes into the box but Messi just goes ‘right, the ball’s coming in, the goalkeeper’s going to go that way so I’ll go that way'. Puts it in and makes [Thibaut] Courtois look silly with a great finish.”
Video: BT Sport pundits purr over Messi
Watch the brilliant video here…
Rio: I'd love to see Messi in training
“I just want to be at the training ground,” Ferdinand added. “I bet there’s stuff at the training ground that you don’t get on the pitch where people go ‘wow’.
“You speak to some of his current and ex-teammates and they say ‘some of the stuff he’s doing there, you can’t even talk about [because] it’s that good.”
Enjoy him while he’s still playing, folks.
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