These Are Actual Professional Players Messi Is Making Look Like Practice Cones Here

The incomparable Lionel Messi was at it again this past weekend, making Atletico Bilbao defenders look like Washington General–style accomplices in his showmanship en route to Barcelona’s first goal in a 2-2 draw on Saturday.

Take a look:

As Prison Mike said, he makes stuff like this look too easy.

Sidenote: There’s a clip of this floating around with beIN Sports’ Ray Hudson doing the commentary, and we gotta say, the former Miami Fusion and D.C. United coach may have jumped the shark when it comes to broadcasting Messi brilliance.

His way over-the-top response—with phrases like “he emasculates them individually, collectively!” and “he disperses his atoms to one side of his body…!”—actually detracts from the sensational action on display.

Tamp it down a bit, Ray. You’re getting in the way.

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Soccer’s Version of Deep Blue vs Kasparov

Here’s Barcelona and Argentina legend Lionel Messi taking on a robot goalkeeper on a Japanese gameshow. He either shoots wide, hits the uprights or is denied in his first few attempts, but (and go ahead and scroll to roughly the 6:00 mark) after several shots he learns two ways to beat the evil machine.

The first is a world-class combination of pure power and deadly accuracy, as Messi blasts the ball to the upper left corner, where Robokeeper—as the infernal device is known—gets a “hand” on it, but cannot keep it out of the net.

The second is a more reliable and brilliant misdirection, as Messi sells the machine on a shot to the left corner but then rocks his attempt into the right corner. The split screen display shows this pretty vividly. Take a look:

For the record, Garry Kasparov defeated Deep Blue 4-2 in their first meeting. In the rematch a year and a half later, after the machine’s engineering had been altered by its legions of programmers, Deep Blue prevailed 3 1/2 to 2 1/2.

Italian Broadcaster Tiziano Crudeli Writhes in Existential Agony as Barcelona Overtakes His Beloved AC Milan

If, as devoted Olympiakos fan Agememnon once said, pain and suffering are the tragical source of knowledge, then Italian TV presenter Tiziano Crudeli must be a very wise man indeed.

Here he is, grappling with the fundamental questions of existence, which have rudely confronted him via Lionel Messi’s opening goal, M’Baye Niang’s shot off the post for Milan, and Messi’s second goal, after which Crudeli’s life has been drained of all meaning:

Yet take note of Crudeli in the last segment, his equilibrium remarkably restored, objectively marking Jordi Alba’s series-clinching goal in his notebook.

That’s hard-won wisdom in action.

Watch Barcelona Ping Nine Passes in Nine Seconds Against Malaga

This never would have happened if US defender Oguchi Onyewu had been in the game for Malaga.*

But the big man from Bethesda, MD, was stuck on the bench, and could only watch as Barcelona toyed with his team in one brilliant sequence en route to a 3-1 win in La Liga on Sunday.

Take a look:

It’s worth noting that this is not a bottom-of-the-table side that Barcelona made to look like stationary orange cones; Malaga is in fifth place in La Liga with a 9-6-4 record and a shot at a Europa League berth.

* It still would have happened.

The Best Thing You’ll See All Week

Longtime Celtic supporter Rod Stewart—whose 1977 hit “You’re In My Heart” includes the lyrics, “You’re every schoolboy’s dream/ You’re Celtic, United…”—was in attendance for his beloved Scottish team’s landmark upset of Barcelona in the Champions League yesterday.

Let’s cut to him at the final whistle:

That’s the greatest. Forget the fact that Celtic only had 16% of possession on the day, they beat Barcelona. No one’s done that in the group stage of the Champions League since October 2009.

Lionel Messi Has 61 Goals this Season

He is the first player to top 60 goals in a first-rank European league since Bayern Munich’s Gerd Muller bagged 67 in 1972-73. He has 24 goals in his last 13 games, and he has 39 in La Liga, a total that leads the league and is one shy of the record set by Cristiano Ronaldo last season.

His 61st came in a 4-0 blowout of Getafe, a game in which he also had two assists. Highlights here:

As the RefBaiter noted, the passing on Messi’s goal “was just ridiculous.” Barcelona have closed the gap on Real Madrid and now sit just one point behind their first-place archrivals.

Another Day, Another Lionel Messi Golazo

Casual nutmeg followed by let’s-just-put-that-there chip to the far side netting:

Amazing. Does anyone wield a chip in the box like he does? Goalkeepers are defenseless against it.

That was against 12th-place Sevilla, and Barca won the game 2-0 to pull to within eight points of first-place Real Madrid, which tied Malaga 1-1. There are 11 games to play in La Liga.