Numbers usually don’t tell the whole story in sports, especially in football. But Lionel Messi doing what he has this season and in general over the past few years, specifically in Barcelona colors, defies that theory. When comparing his scoring this season with Chelsea strikers, one begs to wonder how on earth Chelsea think they’ll get through this one.
Maybe it’s a bit difficult deciding who is a full time striker for Chelsea and who is partially winger, but it doesn’t change the picture. While Chelsea don’t play in the same style Barcelona have and probably rely more on their midfield to score goals when compared with Barca, some numbers are too obvious to ignore.
Drogba is having one of those ‘sobering up’ seasons, following his 2010-2011 campagin that started wonderfully but fell apart along the way, like it has for the club. Injury problems and managerial problems have hurt Drogba’s numbers, and the Chelsea win column, but it’s also hard to ignore the fact that Drogba just isn’t the same striker he used to be. At 34, that’s understandable.
His numbers? Five league goals in 19 matches, nine goals in all competitions, playing 24 games. His influence goes beyond the goal scoring department, but strikers, more than anyone else on the pitch, are judged by numbers, and not ability. Fernando Torres might tell him a tale or two about being judged by numbers – the price he cost to join Chelsea, and his disappointing output.
Torres hasn’t played as much as his numbers suggest – he has come off the bench plenty of times or taken off early just as much. But he hasn’t been playing badly as his numbers suggest. Still, the heavy load of the 50 million seems to burden his head and his feet. In 27 league matches this season, he has scored only 3 goals. It adds up to 7 goals, 41 matches in all competitions.
Daniel Sturridge looked like AVB’s ace for a while, but hasn’t been doing too well since Di Matteo took over. Team oriented attitude missing, that’s what the Italian caretaker manager has been saying. Sturrdige scored 10 goals in 24 matches in league play, 12 goals in all competitions through 37 matches. It should be noted that he’s usually positioned as a flanker.
Salomon Kalou is another player who shares that winger/striker role, usually off the bench. He’s hardly played in the Premier League this season – only 7 matches, scoring once. His record is a bit better in cup competitions, coming up with a total of 5 goals in 15 matches. At 26, it seems the huge potential will never actually push through for the Ivorian.
And on to Messi, who seems intent on breaking every possible scoring record. The rivalry, fictional or real, with Cristiano Ronaldo, is bringing the best out of both of them. Ronaldo, in league play, is just as prolific if not more. In overall, especially the Champions League, Messi has the edge. He has scored 41 goals in 32 league matches, 63 goals in 52 matches in all competitions. Unheard of? Not exactly, but no one has had these numbers in a few decades.
So how do the four stand up against Messi alone? Not too well. Just in league matches, Messi has a 41-19 advantage. Champions League? Messi set a new record with 14 goals in this campaign so far, compared with the Chelsea strike force output of 9.
There’s a different of styles, of leagues. But I wonder what does it teach us more about – Chelsea’s problems upfront, with the 5-1 win over Tottenham being an outstanding freak result, or just how brilliant Lionel Messi is? I’ll pick the easiest answer – A little bit of both, mostly the second.