Something Barcelona and Lionel Messi fans are extremely proud of is the whole “Lionel Messi doesn’t dive” issue, taking it as another example that sets the best player in the world apart from others, and especially Cristiano Ronaldo. Messi might have grown a bit more ruder to referees over the last couple of seasons, but the habit of diving or even falling down when tacking a clib from a defender still hasn’t been embedded in him, taking to the ground only when he actually has lost his balance.
Messi has been shut down for the rest of the season, despite Barcelona still having three more matches to play. The title is firmly secure, having an 10 point lead over Real Madrid who have two matches left to play. He didn’t score against Atletico Madrid, which means he’ll end this season with “only” 46 league goals, deprived of the opportunity to set a new La Liga record, breaking his own milestone of 50 from last season. On the other hand, there’s no chance Cristiano Ronaldo somehow gets his hand on the Pichichi, unless he scored 13 goals in the next two matches.
Messi has never been a diving player, but one habit he probably picked up from Ronaldinho earlier in his career has probably gotten out of his system as well, all for the better. Messi used to simply stop playing when he felt he was being fouled too much, pretty much forcing the referee to stop the match because a player asked for it.
Some might say that it is how the match should be played: The referee seeing the foul, giving advantage, only the player doesn’t choose to take it. But as we know referees, they’re far from perfect beings or footballing judgement machines, and they sometimes need a guiding or helping hand to actually tell them what’s happening on the pitch. While Messi was within his rights to act that way in the past, it’s good to see that part of his game abolished as well.