Barcelona's Lionel Messi (L) is congratulated by team mate David Villa after scoring his second goal against Spartak Moscow during their Champions League Group G soccer match at Nou Camp stadium in Barcelona, September 19, 2012.
(Photo : REUTERS/Gustau Nacarino (SPAIN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER))
While Cristiano Ronaldo has been known for his temper tantrums, his rival Lionel Messi has always been respected for his leadership and calm demeanor.
But a passing incident on Saturday between Messi and striker David Villa seems to have provoked the same kind of media outbursts that follows any words that Ronaldo utters.
During the match against Granada in which Barcelona won 2-0, Messi passed the ball in the box to Villa. However, Villa was surrounded and unable to control the pass. The ball then went out of bounds and a frustrated Messi took exception and shouted at his teammate for not passing the ball back to him. Villa responded in kind and for a few moments, the two engaged in an argument.
Messi and Villa both said there was nothing to the row and coach Tito Vilanova also stated that the two players are in good standing.
A lot of press has called out Messi for his misbehavior, but the question stands: Is he justified? Some players like Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic confront their teammates all the time; Messi does not. Messi has more pressure than anyone in the world to perform at unusually high standards so with his team tied 0-0 in a match they should have been dominating, it was only natural for him to react the way he did. It may not be the best way to go about things, but maybe it is the wakeup call Barcelona needs.
Despite a 4-1 win over Getafe two weeks ago, Barcelona has not been a particularly dominant team. Their 1-0 win over Valencia was as uninspiring as their 2-0 win over a relegation club like Granada and their win in the UCL over Spartak Moscow was a painful to watch for Barca fans as the team had a hard time breaking down their Russian counterparts. This team may not be in top form yet, but they have looked less and less convincing in the last few weeks. Meanwhile rival Real Madrid seems to be turning the corner on their dreadful start.
If Messi's fiery display was an attempt to ignite his team, then it was the right move. It may attract a ton of media attention and rumors of infighting, but a strong club like Barcelona can utilize this adversity to strengthen their resolve and continue their perfect season.