UEFA Champions League Final 2011: Lionel Messi Doesn't Touch The Ball, Still Creates Pedro's Goal

Lionel Messi is the best footballer in the world. He's so good, in fact, that he creates goals for his teammates even when he doesn't touch the ball during a move. Such is his ability and his legend that he is always in the heads of defenders, even when he isn't making any sort of play on the ball or even a play to get the ball. His movement draws defenders out of position, and that's exactly what created the opening goal of the UEFA Champions League final, scored by Pedro, that put Barcelona up 1-0 in the first half.

Messi is always listed on the lineup as a right forward, but he rarely plays that position. Barcelona's lineup is actually an asymmetrical one, as Messi plays as a No. 10 while Pedro operates much more as a winger. Daniel Alves pushes up to provide width on the right, much more than his counterpart on the left, Eric Abidal. This creates problems for the defense, much like the ones created on the goal.

Though he primarily serves a trequarista function, Messi does often drift out to the right and occasionally play like a winger. This has not been the case at all tonight, as he is spending all of his time in the middle. This draws Park Ji-Sung and Patrice Evra into the center of the pitch, leaving space on the right.

On the goal, just before the through ball is played to Pedro, Messi cuts inside from the right and Evra follows him. This leaves a big space on Barcelona's right which Pedro runs into, unmarked, allowing him to receive the ball, shoot, and score. Even though he did not touch the ball, just by cutting inside and drawing Evra way out of position, Messi created a goal. Had Evra not tracked Messi, the ball might get played to him and the end result might be the same. Barcelona have put together some fantastic early moves, and it's easy to see why they're tough to stop.

For news, opinion, and feature articles leading up to the UEFA Champions League final, bookmark this StoryStream and check it often. We'll have new posts right here throughout the week, during the game, and after the game. For more on the entire world of football, check out SB Nation Soccer. Manchester United fans should head over to The Busby Babe, while Barcelona fans should check out Barca Blaugranes.

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