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Messi is one in a million.

Byline: Pete Barrow

CAN we stop beating ourselves up over the quality of our football please? So for the first time in a while the Champions League semi-finals actually look like a European competition rather than the FA Cup semis with a Spanish club involved - well so what!

Barcelona's meticulous 4-1 destruction of Arsenal in the Champions League last eight was humbling for the English game, but if you bought in to the reactions of some commentators on the game you would believe that the Premier League has become a Sunday pub competition overnight.

I will concede that for English clubs this season's competition has been a bit of a wake up call, but I don't buy the accusations that our game suffers a total lack of technique.

The shock factor was raised by the fact that it was the Arsenal team, perhaps England's best passing side, who were played off the park - but while some of the Gunners looked as though they would struggle to trap a bag of sand, those wearing white shirts at the Nou Camp have not instantly become bad players.

The reality is that Barcelona, inspired by the stunning talent that is Lionel Messi, are just one of those sides who will write themselves into the history books.

A quick list would read Puskas-Hungary 1953, Pele-Brazil 1970, Cruyff-Holland 1974, Maradona-Argentina 1986, Gullit-AC Milan 1989 - there are probably other examples you would like to add, but these were simply teams that were irresistible one-offs empowered by footballers of unique ability.

Messi and Barcelona look set to join that pantheon this season and if anything Arsenal - and on a wider horizon English football - can rest assured that they were beaten by the best the game has to offer at a particular point in time.

A nice touch at the end of the Nou Camp game was Messi approaching the referee to shake his hand and then he counted off his goals as he requested the match ball - Lionel I think the ref had probably noticed!
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Apr 9, 2010
Words:338
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