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Messi swaps goal 300 for something extraordinary



 Just as we have the 'Panenka', the 'Cruyff penalty' also exists. It is less mentioned, remembered, or repeated, but we saw it again yesterday, albeit with a slight modification to Olsen and Cruyff's version. That came during Ajax vs Helmond Sport in 1982, Olsen played devil's advocate to Cruyff's nonchalant flick to his left, passing back to Cruyff to tap it in. Yesterday Messi wasn't getting it back from Suarez, perhaps because he saw Sergio had sensed some devilment, or perhaps because he had left that entire side of the goal open. In any case, it was glorious, an extraordinary moment in a match full of extraordinary moments. Icing on the cake in a contest that yet again elevated football to another level of elegance and emphasized the lethal nature of the Culé trinity.

A moment in keeping with the Barça ethos. Even though Cruyff scored that goal for Ajax back in '82, the dutch master's vision and style runs through the Barcelona DNA, a critical strand in the helix of barcelonismo. Agustín Martín recalled a precedent to Cruyff, the Belgian Rik Coppens, who scored a similar penalty in a Belgium-Iceland World Cup qualifier for Sweden '58, the match finished 8-3 and this clever conspiracy of a penalty was invented. Perhaps Cruyff had heard of it, or perhaps it was his own improvisation, who knows. There was also the famous failed attempt between Henry and Pires at Arsenal.

In any case, it takes a certain amount of artistry, imagination, and not a little mettle to score a la Panenka or Coppens-Cruyff. It shouldn't be seen as showboating. In both cases the risk is as great as the reward, a failed attempt is a farce immortalized. Luis Suarez crossed the line, that's true, but you can't take away this magisterial goal in a match graced with magical moments. Messi passed up on his 300th goal to allow Suarez get closer to the pichichi. With the Uruguayan and Neymar in their current orbit, Barça operate in a dimension all of theiir own, one of glorious goals and moments of rare beauty.