Lionel Messi, unlike the general perception regarding modern-day footballers, has a reputation of being a clean and fair players. There are the famous ‘Messi never dives‘ videos, which are true, Messi doesn’t try and cheat via diving. But through handballs, trying to emulate Maradona’s ‘Hand of God’ against Getafe? Seems like the best player in the world is guilty.
Messi reached 61 goals this season with Barcelona during their 4-0 win over Getafe, putting mountains of pressure on Real Madrid. Jose Mourinho’s team had a 10 point lead over their biggest rivals not too long ago, and although they have one game in hand, going in to a fiery away derby against Atletico Madrid, the 1 point separating them from Barcelona seems too real and frightening for the Blancos, who have drawn three times in their last five matches.
But while the past 7 days have been about celebrating Messi’s incomprehensible achievements, becoming the first player in nearly 40 years to score 60 goals in one season, his awful attempt at scoring with his hand against Getafa somewhat taints his immaculate reputation. I don’t think it’s jaw dropping to learn that even Leo tries to get away with things from time to time – He’s not the only Barcelona player who makes life hard for referees, but it does seem sometimes that Messi is above all that nonsense.
The interesting and sometimes funny thing in Spain is how these occurrences get covered by the Madrid media and the Catalan media, who obviously have opposite views when it comes to the La Liga rivalry. It can be argued that Messi didn’t mean to score with his hand, but I don’t think that’s portraying the real picture of what happened. Madrid? They’ll probably have a field day with that. Who knows, we might be even blessed from some clever Mourinho innuendo regarding Barcelona’s way with referees.
I guess his reaction, and the venom he puts behind it, will be decided after the result of the Madrid derby tonight. A match Atletico haven’t won since the 1999-2000 season, not even managing a draw since the 2008-2009 campaign.