Spanish Primera Liga witnessed a minor blip in Barcelona's chronic dominance last season. A minor blip because Barcelona failed to win the Liga and Real Madrid exhibited unsual character in the face of mighty Catalans. Such has been the influence that Barcelona exercise on the Liga trophy that even the Madrid faithful felt compelled to show exemplary elation at their success, earned of course with gritty performances and lots of goals over the course of the season. The interesting sub-plot of goal scoring titans, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo continued and Ronaldo managed to edge the Argentine maestro by the finest of margins.
Come the new season, old debates have been polished about Messi's ability to continue his ethereal form. The basic premise is still the same. Will he be as consistent at achieving super human targets or concede some ground to the naysayers. To most of us, that seems like a non-issue. What if the world's best player fails to meet his lofty standards for a few games? It should actually be a reminder of the fact that he is, much to our chagrin, human. But men like Messi are seldom afforded such benevolence for he is a manifestation of every football fan's wlidest dream. A player with immense abilities, outscoring every one and doing so for season after season has firmly been in the realm of imagination. Messi has realised that dream for most of us. So, the question on everybody's mind before the season opener against Real Sociedad was whether the little genius would show any signs of being vulnerable. After all, Ronaldinho was another great talent that burnt the brightest before falling out.
Messi answered all our questions, much to our relief, with two goals and yet another virtuoso performance. It was as if we switched our tv sets after a lengthy commercial break, one that lasted few months and saw Pep Guardiola take his leave, to be replaced by Tito Vilanova. Both his goals were expertly taken and it reminded us yet again that this man is made of something else, something more enduring. The naysayers instead shifted their focus to his archrival Ronaldo, who had trouble slipping seamlessly into his goalscoring boots in his first Liga outing this season.
Messi was asked about his rivalry with Ronaldo and he answered in his usual humble manner by saying that it is manufactured by the media. He said he considered him to be a good footballer but really did not know that well. Sounds like something we would say about a colleague or a contemporary we have not had the occasion to know personally. Messi loves playing football and watching him score two goals against Sociedad was a stark reminder of one fact. The fact that it would take more than mere talk of pressure on him to lose his form. It is when he falls in love with the game that we might see another Messi. Fortunately, on available evidence, that time is so far away in space, it is inconsequential. Till then, we can sit back and root for this talent and thank him for putting on a show that he equally enjoys.