Monday, December 19, 2011

Ball Harambee Dec. 19

Messi is the King of the Hill By Bagga Wilks

Some months ago Pele compared Neymar and Messi as two of the world’s top footballers. According to the Gospel of Pele, Neymar had the potential of being better than him. Neymar was a far more completed footballer than Messi as he kicked with both feet. Pele also encouraged Neymar to stay at Santos and play in the Brazilian league until after the World Cup in Brazil in 2014.

In recent years, aging Brazilian footballers like Ronaldo, Adriano, Elano, Ronaldinho, et al, having lost a few steps, have left European clubs to return to Brazil as a way of extending their careers.

Brazil is a rising world power. It is an integral part of what world economists call the BRIC emerging markets, Brazil, Russia, India and China. At the same time that Brazil has emerged as a world power, it is declining as a football powerhouse. The Brazilian national football team performed poorly in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and in the 2006 World Cup in Germany. The game has changed but Brazil is still playing at the same old anachronistic tempo.

At the FIFA club championships in Tokyo, Japan, that was telecast on Fox Soccer at 5:30 a.m. Sunday morning, Barcelona of Spain completely dominated Santos of Brazil. What made the game of historical importance was that it brought together Messi of Barcelona on the same pitch as Neymer of Santos. The two great players were on the world stage. Also the Brazilian league would be tested whether it was in the same class as the elite teams or leagues in Europe. It was not much of a contest as Barcelona pawed with Santos and simply held the lion share of possession and seemingly scored at will.

Messi was surrounded by a great aggregation of players, Iniesta, Xavi, Fabregas, Alves, Thiago and Busquet. Messi time and time again destroyed Santos’ pervious defense. He clearly demonstrated that Neymar is still a “babe in the woods” and is not yet in the class of the great Argentinian.

The question for Neymar and his Brazilian advisors is is it possible for Neymar to morph into a great player by limiting himself to the mediocre competition that he faces playing in the Brazilian league? Neymar is 19 years old and there is no question about his talent. But achieving greatness in the world of soccer requires more than national ability. It means developing a mental toughness, adhering to a strict physical regiment, staying uninjured and with the introspection to work on one’s game. Messi is beyond those trials. He is truly one of the great players in the history of the game and his wizardry against Santos in Tokyo is a testimony to his elite stature. Neymar is still climbing the hill of greatness and must in coming years maneuver the steep slopes. He has miles and miles to climb before he is in the class of Messi. Lionel Messi is sitting on the top of the hill of world soccer and before his playing days are over,he may be rated above King Pele but he will need to win a few World Cups for his country Argentina.

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