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Is Lionel Messi the Victim of his Own Greatness?

Following Paris Saint Germain’s UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first-leg game against Real Madrid, French soccer magazine, L’Equipe, handed Lionel Messi a 3/10 match rating deeming him the worst performing player on his team Tuesday night.

In PSG’s 1-0 win, the Argentinian forward had his penalty saved just around the hour-mark and let off seven shots with just one finding the target. Despite failing to achieve a 126th UCL goal, the second most of all time, Messi created a game-high six attacking chances.

Expectations for the record seven-time Ballon D’Or holder have never seemed to falter with fans and critics alike expecting the 34-year-old to produce the same electrifying goal-scoring runs and numbers he’s proved throughout the entirety of his career.

But the question remains to be asked, are soccer fanatics selfish to assume Messi will have a goal contribution in every match he plays?

The Parisians acquired Messi on a free transfer from Barcelona last summer where the Argentinian had played since he was 13 years old and won every single trophy attainable on a club-level.

In Spain, the South American became La Liga’s all-time goal scorer tallying 474 goals in just 520 games and holds the record for most goals in a single season with 50 in 2011-12.

Through 778 games with Barcelona, Messi netted 672 goals and provided 266 assists meaning he had a goal contribution ratio of 1.2 goals or assists for every game he played with the Blaugrana.

For those who question the player’s status as the greatest of all time, his success in his international career is often brought to light as the World Cup is the only title that still eludes “La Pulga”.

He came the closest to the trophy in 2014 as Argentina lost 1-0 to Germany in the final through a heartbreaking overtime goal.

Nonetheless, Messi won the 2021 Copa America title with his international team and can feel more assured about his legacy after leading Argentina to the country’s first South American crown since 1993.

In his first season in Paris, Leo has five goals in six Champions League starts and added two goals and seven assists through 14 appearances in Ligue 1.

As the team’s second-top goal scorer, PSG head coach, Mauricio Pochettino, backed up his fellow countryman’s performance against Madrid saying his impact on games cannot be understated.

“Leo is in good form, he has great desire, these are the nights that are important for his talent,” Pochettino said. “It’s clear he’ll play an integral role in the match and in terms of what he transmits to his teammates.”

Still in search of their first-ever UCL trophy, Paris Saint Germain will certainly on rely on Messi to squeeze by Real Madrid in the second-leg of the Round of 16, and the rest of the knockout rounds to come if they are to advance.

As for those who feel Messi’s time dominating games has come to an end, take a moment to appreciate the player’s unprecedented influence on soccer history and consider that any unfair criticism may just be a product of his own greatness.

(Image courtesy of Getty Images)

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