FIFTY SHADES OF LEO

There is this feeling that I had for the past few years and now it’s grown up. I had an argument with a friend of mine, a few years ago, about Messi and Cristiano, about whom is more complete as a footballer. I know it is a never ending argument but there are some things we have to observe and the Fifa World Cup in Russia is a perfect occasion to see it once again.

So far, at an individual level this tournament is Cristiano’s. You may not like him, you may not be his fan but the numbers say it all. He is the locomotive of his team and without him Portugal would have 4 points less in the bag. As Andrei Niculescu said on his football TV show, Cristiano is a superstar both in national team and in Real Madrid while Messi is a superstar only at Barcelona.

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But the article is about Leo. How is it possible that one of the best footballers this planet ever had, to experience such differences in playing terms, when comparing the way he plays in Barcelona and the way he plays in national team?  Yes, in Barcelona there is Iniesta and Rakitic, yes there is Busquets, yes there were Xavi and Neymar. Argentina doesn’t have the same midfielders but they have better forwards/strikers than Barca: Higuain, Aguero, Dybala, DiMaria and Icardi (why isn’t he in Russia? only Sampaoli knows).

But Messi’s form in national team was never, despite playing three finals in the past four years, the same as in Barcelona. Some say his commitment is not the same for the national team. Some say that the commitment comes along with the salary and the salary he gets is from Barca.

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It seems there are fifty shades of Leo, most of them getting unfold and not in the pleasant way, when he plays for Argentina. There is no smoke without fire and everybody says that Leo has a strong word to say when some players are called at the national team (see the absence of Icardi now or of Tevez’s some years ago, both not in the best relations with Leo).

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Last night, against Croatia I saw one of the worst matches Leo ever played for Barca. Demotivated, frustrated and absent. Yes, the Croatians marked him incredibly well but when your name is Messi, you should be better than that. If you can or if you care to do it for your national team…

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Inevitable there is the comparison with Cristiano who was always decisive both for Real and Portugal.

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