Lionel Messi

Anatomy of a goal: Lionel Messi's solo masterpiece that tore Real Madrid apart in 2011

Ross Jackson
Apr 27, 2021, 12:00 PM GMT+1
Lionel Messi's wondergoal cut through the Real backline
Lionel Messi's wondergoal cut through the Real backline / Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Such has been the rise of the football hipster in recent years, waxing lyrical about players who are already universally acknowledged as being brilliant has gone out of fashion.

I mean, what's cool about lauding a six-time Ballon d'Or winner when you can claim to know a lad in the Ajax Under-14 team with an xG of 62.5 who's going to make it right to the very top, right to the very top? [Insert Harry Redknapp clip here].

Well, y'know what? You can keep your craft ales and your outlandish shouts. Sometimes you've just got to admire the brilliance of one of the greatest players the game has ever seen and that's exactly what we're here to do.

Ten years ago, Barcelona travelled to the Santiago Bernabeu to face rivals Real Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final.

Clasico's don't come much bigger than this, though both sides were polite enough to engage in the time-honoured tradition of having a man sent off, as Barça backup goalkeeper Jose Manuel Pinto saw red for fighting with Alvaro Arbeloa as the two teams headed for the half-time interval, before Pepe was dismissed in the second half.

With the visitors clever enough to hand their allocated red card to a player not even on the pitch, Pep Guardiola's side saw their chance to take a firm grip on the tie and Lionel Messi edged Barça ahead with just 15 minutes to play.

Lionel Messi tore Real's backline apart
Lionel Messi tore Real's backline apart / Alex Livesey/Getty Images

While taking a one-goal lead from the away leg of any tie can be classed as a job well done, Barcelona smelt blood with the home side down to ten men and they went in search of an allusive second goal.

Try as they might it just wouldn't come, though with the clock ticking down to full-time, Messi picked up the ball just a few yards inside the Real half and for the next eight seconds every fan in attendance at the Santiago Bernabeu held their breath.

The Barcelona talisman lifted his head up before playing a neat give-and-go with Sergio Busquets - whose role in the strike deserves to be hung up in an art gallery entitled 'Oh You're Going to Do it Yourself, Fair Enough' - before driving at the heart of the Real backline.

With Messi applying the afterburners, Lassana Diarra did what any good man would and pretended he was trying to avoid fouling the Argentine forward and so decided to stop running, when in reality he just didn't want to be made to look like he was running in custard trying to keep up with him.

Messi was just too good for Real Madrid
Messi was just too good for Real Madrid / LLUIS GENE/Getty Images

A deft drop of the shoulder was all that was needed to send Sergio Ramos packing, before Raul Albiol did the sensible thing and committed the so-called 'professional foul', but when Messi's in full swing even that isn't a guaranteed 'get out of jail free card' and he skipped by the Spaniard like he wasn't there.

Slightly late to the party was Marcelo, and he sprinted across to try and stop the little magician - but by this point it was all much too late.

A touch with the left and finish with the right was all that was needed to leave one of the best goalkeepers in the world, Iker Casillas, flat on his backside like a cartoon character with little birds circling above his head.

Barcelona's Argentinian forward Lionel M
Simply unstoppable / AFP/Getty Images

Given the timing in the game, the magnitude of the event and the location at Barcelona's fierce rivals, you simply cannot underestimate just how good this strike was. A moment of pure genius from one of the best footballers many of us will ever see.

Oh, and Cristiano Ronaldo had one of the best views in the house for any of you die-hard Messi fans looking for an extra little kick.