On Wednesday, Barcelona and Roma played a friendly, which Barcelona won 3-0. The European champs dominated the game, laying siege on the goal for 90 minutes behind another astounding performance from the team’s first-rate frontline. Leo Messi continued to be Leo Messi, Best Player in the World, by providing the key pass for Neymar’s opening goal before firing home a left-footed shot himself. However, it wasn’t Messi’s performance with the ball that garnered the attention. Instead, it was this exchange of ideas with Roma’s Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa that made the world give a damn about a friendly:
Now, usually we would all wonder what Yanga-Mbiwa did to make the sweet angel from Rosario so incensed. That’s just not like Leo Messi! He’s too quiet and humble on the pitch to do that unless somebody crossed a serious line! The ref saw it as such, and awarded BOTH players a yellow card for what could very well be a straight red for Messi. While we won’t know what was said between the two, we can’t just brush this off as Messi losing his cool. This is just the latest instance of Messi realizing his newest iteration: Evil Messi.
Evil Messi has been developing for about a year now. I first got worried about Leo when I saw the highlights from Barcelona’s 6-0 zerging of Getafe in April. Every player got in on the fun, with each stunning goal outdoing its predecessor. After I finished crying tears of satisfaction from such wondrous football, Messi’s appearance took me aback. As the camera zoomed in on a tight shot, I saw…is that a SLEEVE TATTOO?!
I was shocked. Messi, the little manchild who only cares about scoring goals and winning trophies, got a full sleeve? It broke my heart to see such a nice young man corrupted by the forces around him. But then I looked into it more, and found that Messi’s been sporting a few tattoos before this. However, the sleeve is his most public form of body art to date. While before he was fine with personal, anecdotal tattoos, now Messi was broadcasting his new look to the world. It was an adjustment for all of us, as Messi was no longer the innocent boy who only copped to playing Playstation at a party filled with models.
Messi’s spent a year training under the master, and now he’s ready to access deep, dark parts of himself that he swore he’d never tap. He’s got all the same skills as before. He’s the world’s finest dribbler, can still outrun just about anybody WITH the ball, has remarkable vision and the skill to make passes that only he can, and oh, yeah, he’s one of the best shooters and finishers to ever walk the earth. Take all of that, and add a taste for the embarrassing and you have a perhaps even scarier player. Well, scary for the guys defending him, at least. For the rest of us, it’s a joy to watch:
Leo Messi would normally be happy to just create some space from Boateng, and hammer a right-footed shot home. Evil Messi isn’t here for that. Evil Messi takes on Boateng, a 26-year-old considered athletic among a collection of world class athletes, and disconnects his legs from his nervous system. I’ve seen a lot of people fall in sports, and I’ve never seen someone fall like that. It’s just as funny seeing it the 86th time as it was the first. After making Boateng’s family disown him, Messi proceeds to chip with his weak foot over Manuel Neuer, the world’s finest goalkeeper. This was after getting the first goal on him near post from outside the box three minutes prior. Mind you, he pulled this skull-dragging on Pep Guardiola’s new team, with Messi’s old mentor incapable of any strategy to stop him. Who’s drinking a Coke now, motherfucker.
That game against Bayern won me over. I’m in full support of Messi’s dark side now. Where previously Messi would dribble past guys and score, it seemed more of the mind of “well, they were in the way, so I had to get past them to score a goal, which I wanted.” Now it’s, “Well, they’re in the way, and I’m getting this goal, but let’s see if I can make this jabroni question all the wrong decisions he’s made that led him to marking me at this very point in time.”
It’s a pleasure to watch, and I can’t wait to see what’s next. Will Messi spend a game trying to make a team score an own goal? Maybe he’ll bring a shiv to a match and shank somebody when they get out of line. Oh, man, Messi might just feed a certain Cristianinho some Lily of the Valley in the middle of the Pichichi race to make that Cristiano guy distracted. Everything is on the table at this point. All I know is, I need to go get some goddamn tattoos so I can do better at my job.