Anatomy of a Goal: 12 Years On From Lionel Messi’s Stunning Solo GOAT Goal Against Getafe

?When a goal is voted the Greatest of All Time at any club, it is a big deal. When it is given the GOAT nod at Barcelona, it’s meteoric. It’s seismic. It’s United Nations-worthy. Unfortunately, the UN didn’t see it that way, so they palmed it off on a mere 500,000 fans worldwide. 

What did they select? This. 

April 18th, 2007. A date where the US Supreme Court upheld the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act in a 5-4 decision (not quite 5-2, is it?). A date where Princess Haya Bint Al Hamzah, Princess of Jordan and spouse of Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (prime minister of the UAE, and overseer of 90% of modern football clubs) celebrated her 33rd birthday (or maybe not, Wikipedia have it down as May 3rd).

Copa del Rey Semi Final - Barcelona v Getafe

What we do know, definitely, is that this was the day that Lionel Messi shocked the world. 

April 18th 2007, and a fairly innocuous looking Copa del Rey semi-final first leg on the calendar for ?Barcelona against Getafe – that other team from Madrid. It is a goal against the capital lesser’s side, not their Clasico counterparts, which remains embedded in every Barca fan’s head all these years later. Not that this is about Getafe. Or La Blaugrana, for that matter. 

This is about Messi. 

I could tell you the context of the clash, the things that preceded and proceeded this gargantuan moment, but what’s the point? It has all faded into obscurity for a reason. Because there were only 13 significant touches of the ball that occurred during this game. 

Messi’s touches. 

He receives the ball from Xavi – probably Xavi, there seems to be a grainy number six on his back (again, it doesn’t matter) – a few metres inside his own half, on the right touchline. Despite his position in this fairly harmless part of the pitch, the Argentine still has two onrushing Getafans on him right away. 

One is more eager than the other, and flies into Messi with the kind of careless abandon of a player unaware that his opponent is a man who, in two years time, will begin a then-unprecedented run of four consecutive Ballon d’Or wins.

He’s dealt with quickly and ruthlessly. Messi gathers the ball with one exacting touch, and a split-second later his second touch has knocked it softly through the unknowing defender’s legs. His third completes the nutmeg, taking him barrelling – although Leo Messi doesn’t barrel, he glides – towards the halfway line. 

That second fella, having seen his mate get thoroughly embarrassed, doesn’t heed the warning; he barrels – and this time it’s definitely a barrel – towards the number 10 with vengeance in his heart and anger in his eyes. 

This was ill-advised. All too aware that this bitter foe is coming for him next, the magician readies his next trick. With a swift duck of his head, swivel of his hips and shift in direction, Leo has knocked it through another fool’s legs. That’s his fourth. He’s now over the halfway line.

The confidence with which ’13 touches’ was thrown out earlier was misplaced. The problem, or the beauty, of Messi’s dribbling skills is that there are occasions where you think he might’ve touched the ball – he must’ve, because it’s so tethered to his foot – but you can’t be completely sure. It’s either 13 or 14.

Leo Messi,Albin

In any case, his fifth, sixth, potentially ghost-seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth take him – with blistering speed – towards the final wave of defenders. In less than three seconds, he’s approaching the box. 

In all this time, neither of the nutmegged club members have given up. They are still in fevered pursuit, desperately trying to get a grasp of the blurring blaugrana shirt that has inflicted this humiliation. Even without the distraction of a ball at their feet, they never stood a chance. Eventually, the first victim relents. He knows his fate is sealed, why tempt it further? 

The second one? Not so much. He thinks he’s gathering speed, thinks he’s got an opportunity to stop history in its tracks. And so he leaps in to the rescue. The problem is, he has no awareness of his position on the pitch, and the presence of his left-sided centre back right in front of him. 

And so, instead of thwarting the move, he simply succeeds in obstructing his more defensively inclined friend from attempting a challenge. That’s where the 11th touch comes. With brisk dexterity, Messi taps it to the left, away from both, but right into the path of the right-sided centre back. 

Having seen all his good-for-nothing colleagues fail so dramatically, the right-sided centre back is in no mood for niceties. He’s been waiting for this opportunity. He jockeys, he jockeys, and then seeing his opportunity to let rip – the aforementioned 11th touch rolling towards him – he unleashes a Chopper Harris-style lunge.

Like this.

FC Barcelona's Argentine Leo Messi (C) v...

But it’s futile. The number 10 has seen him coming just like he’s seen everyone else, and after tapping it towards him with his left foot, he instantly reverses this with another left-footed tap, like an elongated flip flap. 

Having been steadily travelling diagonally inwards from the touchline all this time, this 12th touch has suddenly taken him square and, more importantly, into the penalty area. It’s just him, the goalkeeper and an awestruck Samuel Eto’o. 

With the ball still rolling, but always within his control, he takes a moment to steady himself. He slows the game down and then, with a sly feint of his head and feet, he feigns to shoot – sitting down the goalkeeper before tapping it around his felled body with his left foot and, in a final flourish, knocking the ball over a recovering defender and into the net with his right.

Samuel Etoo,Leo Messi

Masterful. 

Would it ruin it for you if I told you that this magnificent goal in this magnificent 5-2 win was in vain? If I told you that somehow, Getafe mustered a 4-0 win in the return leg to reach the final? 

No it wouldn’t. Because, in every way, ?Lionel Messi transcends the conventions of football.

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Premier League Stars Set for 24-Hour Social Media Boycott in Protest Against Racist Abuse

Professional footballers across the Premier League and Football League are set to undertake a 24-hour boycott of all forms of social media, in protest against the recent rise in racial abuse and the inability of platforms to properly combat it. 

The 2018/19 season has been plagued by a series of racial incidents on and off the pitch, the most recent of which involving Manchester United defender Ashley Young, who was abused online following his side’s loss to Barcelona in the Champions League.


??And the Professional Footballers’ Association have decided to take action, launching the ‘#Enough’ campaign in an attempt to force the issue and make a stand against the onslaught of racial abuse. 

In an official statement on their ?website, the PFA proclaimed: “On Friday 19th April, professional footballers in England and Wales will boycott social media to take a stand against racism.

“#Enough is a campaign organised by the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA), which will encourage players not to use any form of social media from 09.00am 19th April to 09.00am on the 20th April.

“Over the last few months, both domestically and internationally, there have been a number of high-profile racist incidents directed at players. The boycott acts as a show of unity by the players, and a call for stronger action to be taken by social networks and footballing authorities in response to racist abuse both on and off the pitch.

Raheem Sterling

“Players recognise that these racist incidents are a reflection of societal issues. They know first-hand how damaging racism can be and are using their platforms to inspire change that will benefit players, football and society as a whole.

“The boycott is the first step in a longer campaign to tackle racism in football. The PFA will continue to work closely with The FA and government to ensure more is done to tackle racist abuse, while also seeking to put pressure on both FIFA and UEFA through FIFPro.”

As part of the protest, the body are encouraging all of their members to post the ‘#Enough’ logo across their platforms before the boycott. This statement was backed up by strongly worded statements from Danny Rose, Chris Smalling and ?Troy Deeney

The United centre-half explained: “Throughout my career I have developed a thick skin against verbal abuse, justifying it as just ‘part of the game’ but the time has come for Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to consider regulating their channels, taking responsibility for protecting the mental health of users regardless of age, race, sex or income.

“I understand that I am in an extremely privileged position and I am deeply thankful for that but, at the end of the day, we are all human. As a patron of a youth education charity it is my duty to use my platform as a voice for all, regardless of background. We have to take a greater stand against discrimination of all kinds.”

Troy Deeney

Backing this up was the ?Watford captain, who was targeted on social media alongside teammate Adrian Mariappa earlier this month. He declared: “My teammates and I have been on the receiving end of well documented abuse from a minority of narrow-minded, ignorant people both on social media and on the pitch. Any racism in football is too much, and it’s essential that we fight it wherever and whenever we see it.

“On Friday we are sending a message to anyone that abuses players – or anyone else – whether from the crowd or online, that we won’t tolerate it within football. The boycott is just one small step, but the players are speaking out with one voice against racism – enough is enough.”

?Spurs full-back Rose, who was on the receiving end of racist chanting during England’s Euro 2020 qualifier against Montenegro, then added: “When I said that I can’t wait to see the back of football, it is because of the racism that I, and many other players, have been subjected to our entire careers.

Danny Rose

“Football has a problem with racism.

“I don’t want any future players to go through what I’ve been through in my career. Collectively, we are simply not willing to stand-by while too little is done by football authorities and social media companies to protect players from this disgusting abuse.”

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Rafael Benitez Responds to Matt Ritchie Summer Exit Rumours as Season Draws to a Close

?Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez has rejected claims that Matt Ritchie has been told he can leave the club this summer, suggesting that he cannot confirm the future of any of his players until his own contract situation is sorted.

Benitez’s tenure as Newcastle boss is due to end on 30th June and, despite having an offer on the table from the club, is yet to put pen to paper on a new deal. Despite the possibility that the 59-year-old may leave the club, The Sun reported that he has told Scottish international Ritchie that he can move on in the summer.

Matt Ritchie

It has been claimed that the 29-year-old was looking for improved wages and an extension on his contract, which is due to expire in 2021, but that the request was turned down by Benitez because of his age.

The Spanish coach ?insisted this week that this was not that case, insisting: “I am not happy when I see all the stories about Ritchie, it is not true.”

The Newcastle manager went on to say that, until his future is confirmed, he is not willing to speak to any members of his squad about their situation.

He added: “I have had some players talking with me (about their future), but I told them you have to talk with the club not me. I cannot give any advice about the future, my contract is up on the 30th of June. If I do not have a contract after next month, how can I say to him, ‘I will not give you a contract?’”

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Focus at the club has now switched towards planning for next season following their 1-0 victory over Leicester City last Friday, which has all but confirmed their place in the Premier League next season.

Owner Mike Ashley, who is still looking to sell the club, will be desperate to get Benitez to sign a new contract as soon as possible, with the future of the players at the club very much dependant on the manager.

It appears clear now that, until that deal has been done, all other first team matters at the club will be put on hold, possibly putting their pre-season preparations in jeopardy and placing them on the back-foot ahead of the 2019/20 campaign. 

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Samu Saiz Set to Return to Elland Road Amidst Speculation Over Permanent Move to La Liga

?Leeds United are expecting the return of Samu Saiz from Getafe this summer after a loan deal struck in the January transfer window seems to have backfired on the Spaniard. 

The 28-year-old midfielder joined the the Whites in 2017, and soon became a fan favourite after notching 58 appearances and managing to bag ten goals along with 12 assists.

Samu Saiz

However, after revealing the desire to return to his homeland, Saiz joined Getafe on a loan-to-buy deal, only to spend much of his time in La Liga sitting on the bench. 

He has only managed to make six appearances for his new club, not featuring for them since February as they aim to secure European football for next season. Spanish newspaper ?Marca report that he will return to Leeds in the summer without a permanent contract to stay at Getafe. 

Although his time in Spain hasn’t been a success, the report also suggests that other La Liga clubs may look to strike a deal with Leeds knowing that Saiz would prefer to stay in his home country.

Samu Saiz,Maxime Colin

This will come as welcome news to Marcelo Bielsa, as the midfielder would be surplus to requirements at Elland Road due to the solid form of Pablo Hernandez, Matuesz Klich and Tyler Roberts. 

Leeds welcome Wigan to Elland Road on Good Friday as they aim to secure a Premier League return after 15 years in the wilderness, currently sitting three points clear of third placed Sheffield United.

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Man Utd & Tottenham Make ‘Initial Contact’ With Milan Over Davide Calabria Transfer

?Manchester United have made ‘initial contact’ with Milan over the potential signing of their academy product Davide Calabria.

After making his way through the youth teams at the club, the right-back has established himself as first choice under Gennaro Gattuso, making 27 starts in all competitions for the Rossoneri.

Davide Calabria

In one of numerous rumours that are set to bubble up to the surface regarding ?United’s summer transfer activity, ?CalcioMercato have claimed the Calabria has ‘enticed’ the Red Devils (along with fellow Premier League side ?Tottenham) and that ‘initial contact’ has been made.

The Italian has been a bright spark in an otherwise dim season for Gattuso’s side, as they battle it out with Roma to seal the fourth and final European spot in ?Serie A this term.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has earmarked the right-back spot as a key point of reinforcement in the coming window, with Antonio Valencia leaving Old Trafford in the summer, Matteo Darmian likely to be sold and huge question marks surrounding the under-fire Ashley Young.

For Spurs, Kieran Trippier has failed to live up to the high standards he set himself last season, while Serge Aurier’s future continues to look bleak in north London.

There are issues surrounding any potential deal for either club, however, with ?Milan viewing their academy star as a player for the present and the future. 

FBL-ITA-SERIEA-MILAN-SAMPDORIA

Leonardo and Paolo Maldini are insistent on retaining Calabria at the club and ready to offer the fullback a new deal at the end of the season. Any deal put forward to the 22-year-old would be an improvement on his current deal, which earns him €1.1m net per season.

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