After Clermont, a focus on Leo Messi's performance!
Goalscorer, an assist, Leo Messi was one of the main architects of Les Parisiens' victory in their first match of Ligue 1. A look back on his performance.
There wasn't really any reason to be surprised on Saturday evening, to see Leo Messi flaunt his talent on the pitch. Not only because we all know the extent of the qualities of the seven-times Ballon d’Or winner, but also and especially because his performances over the summer had already set the tone.
THE signs over the summer
The theory? It was the match against Quevilly and the return from the summer break, with the penalty he won. It was the three friendlies in Japan, during which his activity was never equalled and his constant desire to terrorise the oppositions' defence. A goal against Kawasaki, a goal and an assist against Gamba Osaka… A dribble here, and a piece of skill there, and the Argentine went along with the heat wave. On fire on the pitch.
The practice? Time for competitive football and the battle of the summit of French football with the Trophée des Champions in Tel Aviv. It was fertile ground for the Argentine, who scored the first goal of the encounter and was voted Man of the Match. A delightful ball from Neymar Jr, and Messi got the better of Lafont. You can't forget that it has also been the hit of this summer: an incredible connection with a Neymar Jr in equally devastating form, picking up two goals to lift the trophy.
THe Ney-Ssi CONNECTION
Of course, this duo has nothing to prove. The proof being that, Messi has set up 23 goals for Neymar Jr across all competitions, that's more than any other player.
So there was no doubt that the waltz would continue in the very first match of Ligue 1 at Clermont. On Saturday evening, the tandem were once again involved in all five goals! When doing the maths, there was one goal and three assists for Neymar Jr, and two goals and an assist for Messi.
Clermont, a mind boggling performance
How could we not mention the Argentine's final effort of the encounter, with an incredible piece of acrobatic skill to bring the match to a close (0-5, 85'). An absolute genius who received a standing ovation from the crowd at the Stade Gabriel Montpied.
But when considering his performance, it's difficult to pick just one moment, one piece of skill, given how frequent they were during the 90 minutes. Starting as a central playmaker - supporting Neymar Jr and Pablo Sarabia - the n°30 was everywhere. It worth noting the athletic aspect of his performance, and the liveliness that accompanies his form: you just have to look at the pace he showed for Hakimi's goal. Powerful!
Further proof: with no less than 90 touches of the ball, only the lively Marco Verratti bettered him on the pitch (113). He was able to set his teammates on their way with four passes leading to a shooting opportunity and four crosses. He didn't shy away from contact, as demonstrated by his six successful dribbles (out of eight attempted) and his 8 duels won.
All of this, while still actively participating in the team performance, recovering the ball on three occasions from Les Auvergnats and he even recorded a successful tackle.
DID YOU KnOW?
We told you, Marco Verratti and Leo Messi were the two most active players across the pitch at Clermont. But did you know that they also made more passes to the other than to any other player?
Leo Messi passed to Verratti on 13 occasions (12 for Neymar Jr), while the Italian made no less than 20 passes to the Argentine (15 to Vitinha).
THE COACH SAID
"Leo has a very sharp and clear tactical understanding. He sees very quickly where he needs to be. The way that he defends and positions himself to play with others, shows that he is in a place that he is happy with. He loves playing with those around him. From the moment that Leo smiles, the team smiles with him. You know that it has been 17 years that he has been playing at the highest level. He had a slightly difficult season last year because he needed to adapt to a radical change in lifestyle. From the moment that he has had a full pre-season, that he is settled in his life, but also within the club and his teammates, there is no reason that Leo can't have an incredible season."