With Lionel Messi not expected to return to action for FC Barcelona much before the end of the year, and having struggled with some niggling injuries at the latter part of last season, the chances of the mercurial number 10 winning the FIFA Ballon D’Or for a fifth straight year are looking pretty slim.
Lionel Messi ended his mini goal drought on Wednesday with a Champions League double which helped Barcelona to beat AC Milan in Italy. The win not only ensured the club’s qualification for the knockout stages of the competition with two games to spare, but it seemed to mark the return to form of the little Argentine genius.
Both Messi himself and his manager Tata Martino have been talking about the situation, and it seems that the 26-year old is very close to being back to his best. To be fair, it was hardly a crisis in the first place, especially when you consider that he has had injury problems since last season.
The way Barcelona have started this La Liga season so well, and the fact that tonight’s game against local rivals Espanyol is being played at the Nou Camp, would lead you to believe that the result is a formality, but the players will have made sure that Tata Martino knows that this local derby will be far from easy, as Espanyol will give absolutely everything to spoil the Barca party.
A lot of people concerned with FC Barcelona were worried about the referee for Saturdai’s El Clasico at the Nou Camp, because in the last few games he has been in charge of he has tended to favour Real Madrid. So it is not really surprising that the Bzarcelona supporting media had questioned his impartiality before the match.
As it turned out, Undiano has enraged Real Madrid fans, players and the manager Carlo Ancelotti, and the Madrid press claim he was influenced by the questions raised. Each incident has been looked at with the benefit of different camera angles and slow motion replays, and although Undiano did make mistakes, he did it for both sides. Ronaldo should have had a penalty, but so should Fabregas.
There have been some very one sided clashes between Barcelona and Real Madrid down the years, but the match the Spanish call El Clasico is more often than not a hard fought and close contest. Because of this, the fierce rivalry between the two clubs and the fact that the result is usually crucial to the outcome of a season or the winner of a trophy, the referee has to be strong and good at his job.
Because FC Barcelona have started this season at breakneck speed, putting the disappointment of the latter end of last season behind them, it is difficult to get any sort of decent odds on them to win games, even when it comes to playing the big spending giants of Spanish football Real Madrid.
I wonder if Cristiano Ronaldo was watching as Barcelona beat the Dutch champions Ajax of Amsterdam 4 – 0 at the Camp Nou last night. If he did, it will probably have spoilt what was looking like a very good for the Real Madrid and Portugal striker.
Having signed a new contract making him the highest paid footballer in the world, Ronaldo had all the eyes of the football world on him and highlighted his ability with a hat-trick against Galatasaray. That took Ronaldo to just three Champions League goals behind Ruud van Nistelrooy in the all-time list, and there is no doubt that his scoring record is fantastic.
It is crystal clear that Barcelona have not signed a player who suffers from any sort of lack of confidence. 21-year old Neymar has been a Barca player for just one day, but he is already setting his goals for next season and the main one is to do better than the main man from our main rivals Real Madrid.
“Cristiano Ronaldo is a great player, a crack,” said Neymar. “I have already been wanting to play against him, and beat him.
“I have spent days and months with a crazy head, but now it’s over. I’m much more relaxed and happy.