Revista panel on Lionel Messi breaking 40 year goals record and his Barca role

Last Updated: 12/12/12 8:32am

The Revista panel were full of praise for record-breaker Lionel Messi, but all agreed the current Barcelona squad would still be a major force in football without the maestro.

Messi was stretchered off injured in Barcelona's midweek Champions League clash with Benfica but returned against Real Betis on Sunday to break Gerd Muller's 40-year record for goals scored in a calendar year.

The Argentina ace needed to score twice at the Benito Villamarin to pass Muller's 85 goal mark set in 1972 - and he did just that, within 25 minutes.

Messi is still just 25-years-old and the Revista panel of Guillem Balague, Graham Hunter and Paco Ayestaran purred over the forward's finesse - and pointed out he still has three more games to improve the record.

"He's 25 and maybe the best is to come but it won't be easy to repeat this; everything has to be perfect: no injuries, no lack of form."

Paco Ayestaran

Former Liverpool assistant manager Ayestaran said the sheer volume of goals was astounding and even hinted that, with a run of fitness, Barca's finest could repeat the feat.

"The numbers talk loudly about the level of achievement," he said.

"If you look at the number of goals he's scored in the league, 56, and compare that with the top scorers in La Liga in the last 20 years, Hugo Sanchez with 38 and Cristiano Ronaldo with 41, you know we've seen something so special.

"He's 25 and maybe the best is to come but it won't be easy to repeat this; everything has to be perfect: no injuries, no lack of form. Can he repeat it? Of course but he has to be lucky with injuries."

Balague, meanwhile, pointed out Messi's determination to play on Sunday, despite swelling to his knee from the injury against Benfica.

"He was hit by the [Benfica] goalkeeper but he continued with the move because he thought it would be the last time he'd shoot the ball for a long while," said Balague. "That's him, he just wants to play.

"Two days after that, and even though he had liquid in his knee, he trained with the team. He wanted to play, among other things to break the record, and he wanted to break it as soon as possible so people could concentrate on their game.

"At the end of the game he just gave his shirt away, didn't think of keeping the ball it was just like 'yeah, another record'."

Over reliant?

Messi's remarkable goal scoring feats have led some to question whether the Catalan giants are over-reliant on their diminutive dynamo.

While admitting Barcelona would be a different proposition without him, Hunter suspects Barca's other star players - who are perhaps shifted into the shadows by the brilliance of the Argentinian - would take on a more influential role and maintain the side's position among the elite in world football.

"Players play differently when Messi's in the team," he said.

"If you suddenly say 'take Messi away and they'd be nothing or they wouldn't win anything' - well yes, they'd be a lesser team, he's a genius and if you take that away they'd miss him, but other players would step up to the plate. And that is the key to all winning teams, not just Barcelona.

"If Messi wasn't there you'd see more goals form Andres Iniesta, Pedro, David Villa...

"Would they win as much? We don't know. But if we say they wouldn't be as much without Messi we would be taking away the respect due to the other players."

Capable

Balague also believed the Nou Camp squad is a capable of performing well in the absence of Messi.

"Barcelona have played 27 games without him and had 20 victories," he said.

"Out of the other seven games, three were games which didn't matter either at the end of the season or in Champions League group stages. So while he's been there, there have been four games where he probably was missed - because everybody else stepped up when needed.

"If you need another false nine you've got Cesc, if you need another number nine, you've got Villa.

"Is it that they depend too much on him or that they don't need so much from the rest with him in the team?"