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Lionel Messi's Touch on the Soccer Ball

You either have grace, or you...don't.

I noticed that someone typed in ‘how to control like Messi’ and then another typed in 'how to play like Messi' in the search engines (What am I saying search engines plural - there's only, as in it's all Google now) and arrived at our soccer training website.

Messi Playing in the Champions League
AP Photos

And even though the above searcher ended up at a page about a Manchester United DVD, they would come to see there's plenty of soccer articles and video clips about the young Argentine on our website on his incredible touch on the soccer ball.

But what a good search. Why not try to get the touch on the soccer ball that Messi has. Of late, I was thinking all anybody wanted to know was how to get a 'soccer body' or 'legs like Cristiano Ronaldo', seems there's an inordinate number of people searching for info on how to look like Cristiano Ronaldo rather than play like him, based on some of the search terms in our log files. They're not doing a search for tips on how to play like Cristiano Roanldo, but just want to wear the same hair gel he does and get going on those crunches so they have a six pack just like him. But I bet even Cristiano wishes he had Messi's touch on the soccer ball.

I can picture Cristiano Ronaldo at his computer typing in 'get touch like Messi'. Everyone wants to learn the secret behind Messi's amazing ability on the soccer ball and his overall touch, even Ronaldo.

The truth is, who doesn’t want control like Messi and to know how to develop that ball tethered to the foot control that he possesses? As a young player, if you’re going to emulate someone’s control and touch, you’ve chosen no better player than Messi. He's the one. He's the best soccer player in the world. In the Champions League, Manchester United may have beaten Barcelona but there was a lot of talk about Messi's magic.

How do you get the touch and control of Messi? Don’t leave the house without your soccer ball. Yeah, it’s pretty simple really, not many how to steps involved. If you want to get the touch of Messi you’ve got to spend time with the soccer ball and make it do want you want it to do, and not the other way around.

Sure it’s great if you can juggle the ball fifty times, but can you vary the height of the juggles, alternate juggles with both feet, juggle the ball out to the side and then back in front, can you manipulate the juggles rather than dance under the ball like you’re a balancing act with an array of dishes destined to fall. Can you juggle the ball over someone’s head in a Champions League game? That's the ultimate test, juggle the ball when a defender is sprinting at you in front of 90,000 people at the Camp Nou. Can you juggle the ball while you're walking or jogging? Do you like to eat green eggs and ham while you're juggle? Yeah, it's like a Dr. Seuss story, where instead of green eggs and ham it's all about juggling the soccer ball while under pressure.

Messi, who incredibly duplicated both Maradona’s maze run and his Hand of God, will do things in the coming years to further astound the soccer world. And he'll do it with grace, which you can't acquire, which you may have learned from a Seinfeld episode: "You can't have a little grace. You either have grace, or you...don't".

And even though Messi’s version of the Maradona run and Hand of God wasn't on the World Cup stage, they were both dumbfounding and amazing on a number of levels nonetheless. Now, if Messi scores with his hand or does another maze run versus England in a future World Cup, we'll all roll over in disbelief. But take a look at some of his early feats.

The young Messi is a pure genius on the soccer field, and so humble to boot. He maintains a quiet sort of confidence, a focus and always seems to play the right way--meaning there's a method to his genius, if he doesn't pull something off you still see what he's trying to do.

Plus, he’s rarely if ever ruffled despite the increased focus and punishment he’s taken at times. He’s a player who was in tears when he had to come off the pitch because of a reoccurring thigh problem that may be the result of a hormone deficiency when he was a child. He's not a player who complains or acts like a spoiled child at times, a la Cristiano.

In the match against Manchester United, who’d come into the Camp Nou as maybe the best team in the world, playing the best soccer in the world, Messi shined. The pressure doesn’t get to him. His touch and control don’t vary whether the game is a friendly, a league match, a Champions League match or the World Cup. There wasn’t really anyone that Manchester they could throw at Messi to contain him. Evra did an admirable job of limiting Messi’s inroads into the attack, but he couldn’t blunt him or deter him from making Evra’s over zealousness theatre for the fans and then a YouTube clip.

In the video below he suckers in Evra when the ball is played into him. Controls the ball with his chest and then flicks the ball over Evra's head as he rushes at him —sombrero. And then in a snap, the ball is on his thigh and back at his feet nearly immediately. The ball is never too far away from Messi, very ratherly if ever. Just ask Patrice Evra or check out the video below. 

Messi's Flick Over Evra

And this isn't just some run of the mill defender, this is Evra, one of the great defenders in the game. Messi makes him look foolish, as he does most defenders in the game.

 


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