Pete Jenson: 'Lionel Messi: The Movie' may be in production but the Barcelona forward's goals against Seville showed it is not time for the credits
A Different League: The Argentina international showed that contrary to reports of his demise he could still play himself
Wednesday 12 February 2014
Spanish director Alex de la Iglesia is due to begin shooting a film about Lionel Messi's early life in Rosario next week.
Locations for it were scouted late last year and will include the pitches at neighbourhood club Grandoli where, a few blocks from the Messi family home, Salvador Ricardo Aparicio, who coached the "baby football" team, was one player short for his side one week and saw a four-year-old Messi kicking a ball against a wall.
He had been brought by his mum and grandmother to watch his older brother play on one of the small dirt pitches and conscious of both his age and size, Aparicio told Messi to stand by the goal so he could be retrieved quickly if he started to cry.
He stayed on all game and all season, for three seasons, before, aged seven, moving to Newell's, who will also feature heavily in the part-fiction, part-documentary feature. Another product of Newell's, Jorge Valdano, is co-writing the script and Spain's biggest film company, Mediapro, will produce it.
What Messi proved last Sunday against Seville is that aged 26, and contrary to reports of his imminent demise, he is still in the right condition to play himself if necessary.
"Messi has lost the passion for the game," said former Barcelona assistant coach Angel Cappa ahead of that game. "He seems to be just going through the motions." That came amid talk of Barcelona's No 10 becoming the new Xavi by playing in a deeper position with another player ahead of him. The goals were, after all, drying up.
But against this backdrop, and with the Champions League encounter with Manchester City now less than a week away, he scored twice in the 4-1 win, rounding off a 17-second counter-attack with two lightning touches, the second of which sent the ball past Seville keeper Beto. Messi then took a pass from Andres Iniesta that looked as if it might not even have been intended for him to score league goal No 226 of his career.
He is now just one goal behind Alfredo di Stefano, two off Raul, three short of Hugo Sanchez and with 25 to make up on the league's all-time top scorer, Telmo Zarra.
It might be too much to ask that Messi overhauls Zarra in the remaining 15 games of the season but Di Stefano, Sanchez and Raul should all be surpassed and if Barça get past City, Raul's European record will surely also fall – he is just six goals from the Spaniard's Champions League record of 71.
All of which will come too late for the movie. The thought of a film about the life of Messi when he is at what ought to be the halfway point of his career – albeit primarily a documentary – has added to the pervading feeling of premature nostalgia at Barcelona this season.
"Glory Days" boomed out of the Nou Camp speakers two weeks ago as Xavi applauded supporters applauding him for 700 games played for the club. Barça had put together a montage of his best moments on the stadium's big screens. The Bruce Springsteen song had clearly been picked for its title – the lyrics about time slipping away as has-beens recount "boring stories of glory days" were perhaps not quite so well chosen.
It does not take much for Barcelona supporters to see the end of the world on the horizon and Xavi clocking up 700 matches, Victor Valdes leaving at the end of the season, Pep Guardiola making someone else's fans happy and Messi's first biopic getting under way have all contributed to the sense that the credits are about to roll. Those goals in the rain against Seville served to remind the club's melancholic followers that as good as the film will be, the Messi reality show still has years left to run.
Guardiola threatens to put Heynckes Treble in the shade
What could Guardiola possibly achieve at Bayern Munich that Jupp Heynckes hadn't already managed in his final season, we asked as the former Barcelona coach switched to the Treble winners last summer. Well there is always winning the league with the most points ever; the most victories ever and the best goal difference ever. As he goes into the German Cup quarter-final against Hamburg, Guardiola is still on for a Treble with bells on.
His Bayern side will finish with 95 points if they maintain their current win ratio, beating last season's 91 points. With 12 wins from their remaining 14 games they will beat last season's record of 29 victories in one campaign. And with goal difference at +44 they are on course to beat last season's +80. There is still a lot of football to be played but achieving all that, and becoming the first side not to lose a Bundesliga game in a season, might just top Heynckes.
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