“He [Messi] carries in his blood a competitive gene, to be the best, the settle matches” – Pep Guardiola.
If the truth be told, for almost the entirety of the opening 90 minutes of Barcelona’s FIFA Club World Cup final against Estudiantes, Leo Messi was on the periphery of the action. As is standard, the pocket-sized dynamo showed some neat touches and silky skills, however these were continuously seen in areas that failed to hurt the Argentines as Messi failed to make his impact in the final third of the pitch.
Then, as the match moved into extra time, Messi stepped up his game dramatically. In the 93rd minute he fired a tantalising free-kick just over the bar, and then in the 110th minute came the moment of the match as Messi ran from deep to evade the attentions of Juan Sebastien Veron before hurling himself, chest first, to a Dani Alves cross to claim what proved to be the match-winner.
Individual match highlights of Leo Messi’s performance against Estudiantes can be seen here.
Cristiano Ronaldo also experienced a goalscoring Saturday as the Real Madrid wide-man claimed his fourth goal in five matches as his rehabilitation from injury looks to be complete, as Zaragoza were smacked for six.
Occupying his usual left-wing option with license to drift into a more central area, CR9 wasted little time hogging the ball in the early exchanges as he showed a repeated pair of clean heels to the visitors’ midfielders and defenders as the world’s most expensive football repeatedly left them for dead with his searing runs.
Ronaldo came within inches of netting yet another trademark free-kick in the run-up the to halftime interval, but having narrowly missed the former Manchester United forward scored at the start of the second period, teasing several defenders before curling in Real’s fourth of the night.
Individual match highlights of Cristiano Ronaldo’s performance against Zaragoza can be seen here.