What a wild and wonderful match the Real Madrid versus Barcelona game was last month. As the final seconds were slipping away, Sergi Roberto surged through the middle. It was a brilliant run. He found Gomes, who knocked it to the overlapping Alba. The cutback rolled to Messi and he struck the winner low to Navas’s right from 15 yards. It was his 500th Barcelona goal…
The image of Lionel Messi at the end was iconic – standing at the north end holding his shirt out to the stands. Barcelona had slayed the dragon in their own lair.
What is it that makes Messi so good? Is it his composure on the ball or the simplicity of his world beating dribbling skills? Is it his incredible acceleration, the perfect timing of his runs, or the low centre of gravity that has gifted him such fantastic balance?
Cynics have tried to suggest that being blessed with creative providers such as Xavi and Iniesta hasn’t hindered his goal tally, but in any team his abilities would be judged as extraordinary.
“Messi is the best player in the world,” argued Zlatan Ibrahimovic recently, himself no slouch with the ball. “He plays like he’s on PlayStation, it’s unbelievable. People who say otherwise either don’t know anything about football or are just talking nonsense.”
If Leo himself is to be believed, his abilities originally came from a passion for the sport and a familiarity with the ball – something that most of your players should relate to.
“First of all you’ve got to love the game,” he has said. “From the age of three I played every day, morning, afternoon and night.”
If regular ball work has paid dividends for Messi, this is something that can be encouraged in all youngsters. There are also a certain amount of his skills and techniques that you can coach on the training ground, such as how to time those surging runs, when to attack the space behind a defender, and how to play the wonderful one-touch play that he enjoys so much at Barcelona.
Try this game EXPLODE INTO THE BOX from Soccer Coach Weekly to get your players scoring like Messi.
Explode Into The Box
Exploding into the box is one of Lionel Messi’s most effective attacking weapons. Get your players to try this drill and they too could be destroying defences in seconds.
Why use it
When attacking, runs into the box need energy, changes of pace and changes of direction. Players need to experience how short bursts of speed and movement can be explosive near the goal.
Mark out an area of 25×20 yards, with a goal at one end and two five-yard channels at the other. We’re using eight players. You need balls, bibs, cones and a goal.
How to play
In the first channel a server has five balls ready to play into two attackers in the main area. The two players in the second area must play like Messi and burst into the box but they cannot move until one of the attackers in the main area touches the ball. Defenders score a point by returning the ball to the server. Rotate all players after five balls have been played.
The timing and type of run from the two attackers will determine how effective the move is. Attackers must make decisions based on what they see ahead of them and where the space in front of goal is.