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Lionel Messi deliberately does nothing for the first five minutes of every game… and it works

Like a boxer finding his range, Messi's subdued beginning is a necessary precursor

Lionel Messi has scored goals in every minute of a game for Barcelona… except the first two.

600 goals and not one has come in the first 120 seconds of game.

Why? Because he’s got more important things to do.


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Greatness is not to be rushed

Getty - Contributor
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Greatness is not to be rushed

It’s a habit that has become more pronounced in the last two years; Messi shows little interest in the ball during the game’s opening exchanges.

Instead, he prowls about, barely leaving indents on the turf, watching closely for weaknesses and vulnerabilities.

These days, teams of Barcelona’s stature spare no expense when it comes to preparation.

Just look at Marcelo Bielsa’s press conference during the Championship’s ‘spygate’ carry-on for an insight into the analysis that takes place prior to each match in the modern era.

Despite this, Messi still feels the need to take five minutes at the start of each game to make his own assessment of the opposition.

Master of his craft

EPA
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Master of his craft

It would be fascinating to know the details of his process.

Like an expert in body language detecting betrayals in micro-movements and half-expressions, Messi spots microscopic loose threads in the defence.

Once the battle plans have been formed and the optimum prey stalked, only then does he go to work.

Barcelona’s true cathedral

Getty Images - Getty
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Barcelona’s true cathedral

Doubters (if there are any left) will say only Messi could get credit for doing nothing.

And it’s a fair point.

If any other player was so consistently anonymous in the first five minutes of a game, we would label them a ‘slow starter’ and consider it a weakness in their game.

But Messi is not like other players.

Whatever he does during the first five minutes, it clearly works for him.

Who is anyone to question his methods when the results are so overwhelmingly impressive?

Just the 48 goals for Barca this season

Getty Images - Getty
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Just the 48 goals for Barca this season

At this stage of his career, Barca’s transcendent No10 has no defined position — he roams without boundaries.

This role means he is free to act upon the strategy devised during his brief scouting mission.

Wide channel between the left-back and the closest centre-back? Yes please.

Defensive midfielder drifting too high? That’ll do.

Space in behind for overlapping Jordi Alba? Not a problem.

Patience is a virtue

Getty Images - Getty
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Patience is a virtue

Like a boxer finding his range, Messi’s subdued beginning is a necessary precursor.

Trust him to turn inaction into a weapon.


NEXT: Arturo Vidal may be the antithesis to Barcelona but he is exactly what they need

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Geordie Alba

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