This was the moment that the Real Betis fans applauded Lionel Messi. It’s when Guardado gets nutmegged but it was much more. It was Real Betis still trying to think they could get the better of the greatest soccer player in the world and he once again slipped away.
It was late in the game, when Andres Guardado was pressing Barcelona along with his Real Betis teammates, and it seemed like they just might have finaling trapped Lionel Messi and were going to win the ball in their attacking third.
It was much too late though. While Real Betis had done well and relatively held off and contained Messi in the first half, which ended with the score tied at zeros, the second half was blown open and the game was ending with Barcelona up 5-0. Messi with two of those goals.
Still, Guardado wasn’t done yet, he wasn’t packing it in, resigned that the greatest player in the world was someone who nobody could contain, when maybe he should have been.
And in this play Guardado gets beaten twice, once nearly falling down as Messi cut one way and the other as he closed him down, all while Messi’s back was turned, and then when he broke free and put the ball through Guardado’s legs – nutmegged by the greatest player to ever play the game. It was this play that got the Real Betis crowd to applaud Messi’s astounding abliity. Not just the nutmeg but the entire sequence of Messi shielding the ball and twisting and turning away from their team. His whole effort throughtout the game.
Remember there was only about five minutes left in a 5-0 match, and Messi was still playing at the highest level. Real Betis deflated but still swinging, but stumbling and essentially knocked out tried to win the ball once more from him but couldn’t.
Guardado dropped his head for a minute in shame just after the nutmeg happened and jogged back, not really chasing Messi, as nobody can catch him unless they pull his jersey. But jogging back to escaped the shame and just to keep going.
There shounldn’t be too much shame though, it’s Messi after all, but it was still something to see Messi control the soccer ball with his back turned and beat three or four Real Betis players and then put the ball through Guardado’s legs and break free once again. And Guardado isn’t a young player, inexperienced or anything, he’s played for Mexico 142 times at the international level.
And Messi was still going, despite the game already decided. Still running on high. Still wanting the ball at his feet. He loves to play remember. He loves the game. I always come back to this quote about Messi: “He’s interested in the ball, in making it do what he wants.”
I’d add to this that Messi wants fans to enjoy the game, both his Barcelona fans and the opposition. He wants them to see how good he is and how much fun he’s having and how great the game of soccer is. It’s a joy to watch him play it.
After the game there’s a moment where Guardado appears to ask for Messi’s jersey and Messi seems to say yes when we get into the locker room I’ll give it to you, or something like that. You can’t blame Guardado for wanting his jersey or for getting nutmegged. However, you’d think players would know by know they you can’t stop Messi. You can only hope to contain him somewhat and try to get his jersey after the game.