Messi's penalty reinforces LaLiga

It was nothing more than a penalty in a game that was as good as over. However, Messi and Luis Suárez were still able to turn it into something special. What they did was relatively easy: perhaps even you or I would have been able to stick it away had we hatched up a similar scheme beforehand. It’s far more difficult to score from twelve yards out taking the direct approach, as Messi well knows. The only blotch on his otherwise outstanding footballing track record is the roll of the dice that is the penalty kick; his conversion rate from the spot doesn’t match up with the rest of the lofty standards he has set for himself. But big problems require big solutions. So, in an artistic gesture he offered up the goal-scoring opportunity to Luis Suárez.

It was a penalty, nothing more. It would end up being Barcelona’s fourth goal in an already nailed-on victory over Celta, nonetheless, news of what happened spread across the globe like wildfire. It was the first time a goal of its kind had been scored on Spanish soil, at least at this level. It is yet another jewel to add to the crown of a brand of football that marked itself out as the best a long time ago. Obviously no one is telling Messi, Luis Suárez and Neymar they have to be constantly outdoing themselves and making each bit of play special, nevertheless that drive is naturally built into them. Cristiano, Benzema and Bale should aspire to do the same, as should Carrasco, Torres and Griezmann. They all fly the flag for LaLiga.

Nobody should be offended by rainbow flicks, nutmegs, rabonas or indirect penalties. All of these wonderful skills are good for Spanish football, as they flabbergast and delight fans. Football is a game of skill. Deceiving the opponent is not cheating, it’s a well-honed craft. The crude and guileless sport invented by the English, which consisted of long balls, heavy tackling, aerial play and shoulder barging, evolved over a century ago into a far more enjoyable spectacle of trickery and subtle movement. In this regard the Spanish game sits at the head of the modern footballing table. Let’s enjoy it while it lasts. Thank you, Messi.