Lionel Messi is so routinely brilliant that it is easy to take a free kick like this one — which he scored in the first half of Barcelona’s Champions League game against PSV on Tuesday — and throw it on the pile of all the other goals he’s scored in his life. This is just what he does.
I implore you: Resist the urge to normalize this. Fight back against the routine nature of these goals. The fact is even Messi himself seems nonplused by them at this point.
Update: Messi added two more for a hat trick in a 4-0 Barcelona win. Of course he did.
Upon first glance this free kick feels nonchalant, the way he takes it, all loopy and sweet. Then you see the angle from behind the free kick and you see the shot wasn’t sweet at all, rather a vicious parabola that sails upward over the wall before being yanked down by that otherworldly topspin and into a maybe square yard of space in the top corner where no keeper could ever hope to get it.
It is, in fact, a flawless free kick, the type of goal that would be a career highlight for many. For Messi, it’s a moment I’m not sure we’ll be talking about in a day or two, another perfect soccer moment for a man who’s produced countless perfect moments over the last decade and a half.
But, again, it’s hard to get too worked up about all this. I understand it. Especially because Messi himself has never been all that interested in losing his mind over goals like this. Look at his reaction to the goal. He knows it’s heading in as soon as he kicks it. He doesn’t smile much. He jogs to the corner, sticks his hands out, points up to the sky. He hugs his teammates. He waves to a few Barca fans. Then he jogs back to his side and prepares to try and do it again.
When Zlatan Ibrahimovic scores a karate kick, it feels like fireworks are going off. When Cristiano Ronaldo hovers over a free kick, dramatically exposes those thighs, and fires one in the top corner, it feels like you are witnessing A Moment.
When Messi places one in the top corner in the Champions League, he jogs to the sideline and hugs his teammates. It’s just who he is. He’s scored so many, he can’t artificially create that hysteria when he scores another one.
My colleague Zito Madu wrote recently how it’s so important to appreciate geniuses while they’re still playing, so let me just tack on to that and say: Please, continue to geek out over Lionel Messi. Scream and shout and gape at them. Even if he can’t get too fired up about these goals anymore, we can.