January 11, 2011

My vote wasn’t for Messi

by Dan Bilicki In: Soccer

Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Lionel Messi. It’s hard to argue that any of them wouldn’t be a fine winner of the FIFA Player of the Year. But, of the three, one simply doesn’t belong and he turned out to be the winner of the award.
 
Don’t get me wrong, Lionel Messi is the best forward in the world and could go down as one of the best of all-time, but this year, he didn’t accomplish the one huge thing that his fellow candidates did: Win the World Cup. Heck, Messi had a below-average World Cup by his superb standards and didn’t even make the World Cup XI – also known as the tournament’s all-star team. And rightfully so, he didn’t even score a goal on the world’s biggest stage.
 
Why do you think that may have been? Perhaps because the men setting him with his club weren’t playing with him on Argentina? It’s certainly plausible.
 
It is usually Xavi, Barca’s brilliant attacking midfielder that sets up Messi for his beautiful runs. To take one away from the other could be detrimental to the other’s game, but I’m sure they would still thrive with inferior company.
 
The case for Xavi winning player of the year is an easy one. He is one of, if not the most gifted passer in the game. At the World Cup, he completed more than a 100 more passes than any other player and also set the tournament’s record for passes by quite a wide margin. His vision and touch are simply superb.
 
He may not show up on the score sheet as much as the other two finalists, but he will never be forgotten on the pitch and will always be on or near the ball.
 
Iniesta has a very fair case too. His skill set is similar to Xavi’s in both elements and level, but Iniesta is a more complete midfielder on the defensive side of the ball. While scoring the World Cup winning goal surely caught the voters’ eye, I don’t think he was deserving of such a high turnout because of the time he missed. After all, he sat out a large part of the 2010 half of the 2009-10 season and was still questionable heading into the Cup.
 
If you miss nearly half a season, how can you compare to your equals that played an entire campaign?
 
In the end, you can’t fault anyone for voting for a guy that scored 58 goals in 54 games in the past year. But my vote wouldn’t have gone to the Argentine.

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