Tag Archives: Messi

Atletico de Madrid believed in themselves

griezmann

Antoine Griezmann had the sparkle that Barca lacked.

There are reasons why the best team in the world lost the Champions League quarter finals today to an upstart. Barcelona played flat, with no one showing flair. Atletico were sharp, precise, technical and quick.

They were outmatched in skill, but they compensated with belief. Most teams are so intimidated by skills-rich Barca that their objective is to limit the humiliation. But Atletico brought a greater work ethic to the pitch. While Messi, Neymar, Suarez and Iniesta lacked their typical flair, Antoine Griezmann showed up with sparkle.

Don’t worry about what you lack. You can make up for it with self-belief.

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This Iraqi kid loves Messi

messi bag jerseyToo poor to buy the real thing, this Iraqi boy turned a plastic bag into the jersey of his favorite soccer player, Leo Messi from FC Barcelona. How do you show your love for God?

Thanks to the internet, Messi saw it and is going to send him a real jersey. This will probably thrill him for 110 years.

The Bible says that Jesus was so impressed by the Roman centurion’s faith that He granted the miracle. Lesson: You can impress God (though we should distinguish: you can’t “earn” his favor — ok, it’s confusing, but the two truths work together in tension much like a guitar string is tightened across two frets). How do you show your love for God?

He could have played for instead of against

lionel-messi-Lionel Messi, with whom defenders can only keep up with their eyes, was loaded with so much talent, but clubs in Argentina were unwilling to give him the costly growth hormone he needed.

At 9, he would put 100s of touches on the ball to elude the best kid defenders. At 11, he was diagnosed with growth hormone deficiency. His club, Newell’s Old Boys in Rosario, agreed to pay the daily injections that would cost $1,500 a month but only wound up given him 300 pesos.

messi cup of clubsSo he signed for FC Barcelona, which has since seen its investment amply paid back. Messi has won four consecutive Ballon d’Or, three Champion Leagues and six Spanish League titles.

He just won the World Cup of Clubs against an Argentine club, River Plate. When he scored the first goal, he raised his hand to apologize out of respect for his motherland. Still, ultra fans insulted and spat on him at the airport. But had River Plate been willing to invest in Messi, the world’s best player (my opinion) might have played for them.

I have seen this in the church and it makes my stomach churn. Don’t despise anybody God brings in. Everyone has talents and destiny. Appreciate everybody; they’re there for a reason. They have talents you don’t. Without their contributions, your church will be deficient.

Everybody else is playing slo-mo: Messi the dangerous

Here’s some more Messi hyperbole: He’s a superhero. Worldclass players just aren’t as fast as him. He sees his way out of traps faster. He sees and sends through-balls faster. He cuts surgically faster. He curls in shots faster.

Lionel Messi led FC Barcelona to its second championship this season with two goals. The first was a solo goal that befuddles four (even six) defenders. That’s half the Atletic de Bilbao team. In the end, Barca dizzied their opponents to secure the King’s Cup, after clinching the league the previous week. Now the only thing keeping them from a triple-crown with the European Champion’s League next Saturday is the mighty Juventus from Italy.


Seriously, Messi makes top professionals look like clumsy kids.

What they say about a soccer player of his caliber is that he is always “dangerous.” That is, he is creating danger for the opposition (opportunities to score goals). He does things that no one else can. (Well, he hasn’t walked on water yet.)

When you pray, you’re being dangerous to the devil.

Prepare the way for another

Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi

If you ponder who is the greatest footballer of all time, Lionel Messi would be a contender for the title. Thanks to Messi, FC Barcelona are the team to beat, the standard-bearers of magic on the pitch, a distinction formerly held by nemesis Real Madrid.

But there would have been no Messi, and Barcelona would have remained always in the shadows of white uniforms of Spain’s capitol city, had it not been for a legend from the past. Johann Cruyff is almost forgotten in the radiance of today’s stars. But it was Cruyff who made the way for Messi.

cruyff

Johann Cruyff

Wanted at Real Madrid, the Dutch dazzler opted to move to then-underdog Barca. Immediately he won the championship and two Ballons d’Or. Later as coach, he won four consecutive titles and one European Cup. He devised the farm training team for future stars to rise in. It was there that Messi discovered his own greatness.

Today, Cruyff fades into the background as the steamroller Messi continues to smash records. Who is greater? The one who became great or the one who forged the path for him to find destiny.

Maybe your ministry is waning, your influence declining. Fret not. What you have done for God has brought others into their own destiny and greatness.

They call him Messiah

sad messiLionel Messi doesn’t talk trash, boast, swag in front of media. He won the most prestigious FIFA Ballon d’Or four consecutive years (2009-12) — the only player to ever do so. He is consistently called the best on the planet.

When the Argentine takes to the field, it is assumed he will make the difference. He will win break the deadlock, befuddle defenders with bursts of speed and magic from his feet. Among those who idolize football, he is called Messiah, a pun on his last name.

But Messi found out he is NOT the Messiah at the World Cup final. Unlike Maradona and Pele, he was unable to carry his team to victory over the German squad. (They aren’t messiahs either, but Maradona thinks he is.)

messi fail

With the German keeper, who won best goalie.

It was evident that Messi found no flavor in winning the Golden Ball for best player. It was said that the only trophy missing from his cabinet was the World Cup, and he returned home without it. When he had chances to score, he struck wide (uncharacteristically).

In a classy display of good sportsmanship, German midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger tried to encourage Messi, who looked rigid and uncomfortable listening to him. Maybe he was trying to keep from crying.

messi schweisteiger

Messi and Schweinsteiger

It is a good moment when we humans realize we are NOT God. There is a God who loves you and wants to bless you, but the whole universe doesn’t center around you. We are the creation of God, not the other way around. We need to praise Him, and not receive the praise of man. If you don’t believe in God, then naturally, you are your own god. Enjoy the destiny you bring yourself. You are cheating yourself of the destiny God wants to give you (Heaven, for example).

I feel bad for Messi because he’s generally such a humble (and talented) guy. I also want to pray for him to get to know the true Messiah.

The prize goes to the most consistent

mario goetz world cup goalIt wasn’t Mario Goetze’s sublimely chested reception of a lofted center or his twisting left-footed volley that won the World Cup for Germany. It was the consistency of its team.

A feat of artistic football perfection, Goetze’s goal will doubtless be chronicled along with the works of Michelangelo. But the mind-boggling shot that beat Argentina 1-0 in extra time was only the fruit of a team that has made soccer into a science.

Goetz World cup 2014

Probably the Argentinians were expecting to go to penalties. Or maybe they were just plain tired. But they left Goetze unmarked late in extra time for him to execute a logic-defying goal.

Germany was the first country to apply America’s sports science (from baseball, football and basketball) to soccer. They scout nationwide talent from 8-year-olds upwards. They methodically develop stars. They rigorously analyze strengths and weaknesses. They practice meticulously every possible play in the free-flowing sport that has no huddle, no time-outs, no plays called from the sidelines.

Argentina seemed only to come to life in semi-finals. With flair and an energetic midfield, Argentina showed moments of brilliance in the final but were unlucky to not finish.

In the end, the Sons of Science beat the Kings of Creativity.

14-germany-cup

The $10 million chunk of goal goes to Germany for the fourth time in history.

Germany defended tenaciously and waited, waited, waited for just one defensive lapse, a moment that came deep in extra time when substitute Goetz found himself unmarked in the area. The baby-faced wunderkind bounced the ball perfectly off his chest and confounded ace goalie Sergio Romero by spinning and smashing the ball into the opposite side of the goal.

The gem of a goal only crowned a winning system.

Bastian Schweinsteiger consoles Messi.

Bastian Schweinsteiger consoles Messi.

I was disappointed because I wanted Lionel Messi to win the only trophy missing from his war chest. I admire Messi for his humility and ability. Plus, he plays for my favorite club team, FC Barcelona.

But I can’t moan much. Germany deserved the final.

Actually, their win answers a great Christian dilemma. If all sins can be forgiven, why try to serve the Lord? Why not consent to your flesh since you can still make Heaven?

The reason is prize goes to the consistent. While you can always make Heaven with some repentance, you miss so many blessings in your life through your disobedience. Please don’t misunderstand. I’m not condemning anyone. We all flub. But I encourage — myself included — to strive to do better. Let’s all (Christians) strive to be more consistent in our service to God. WE will reap the benefits.

But first you must invest

goal_1690382aLike other mortals, I was stunned by Barcelona’s 4-0 snuffing of AC Milan to blaze with canons firing into Champions League quarter finals.

d1cf09c4846b44ae9efbcf1b1e9ce6bb-e5cac050bd644db6b32f1d3af7fa3e1c-8With confounding feet, Leonel Messi fired out of a throng of Milan defenders high into left corner at minute 5, leaving Goalie Christian Abbiati looking like a tree planted in the ground, his vision blocked by his own defenders.

article-2292371-189C5EF3000005DC-744_634x414Just before the half, Messi again caught Abbiati wrong-footed with a low torpedo through defender’s legs that sank Italian hearts. A third curling goal from David Villa marked victory, and a lung-bursting sprint from Jordi Alba, picking up a cross from Dani Alves, made it four.

201303121615585444821-p2The Barcelona Symphony, directed by Messi, played a command performance, overcoming a 2-0 deficit on the away game — a feat never before seen in the Champions League.

With brimming reason, Messi has been named an unprecedented four times best world player. But first, Barcelona had to invest in him.

messi-began-playing-soccer-at-the-age-of-fiveAt 11 years of age, the Argentine showed early promise but suffered from growth hormone deficiency. His dad, a poor steelworker, could not afford it. The legendary Argentine team River Plate recruited Messi but balked at the $900/month treatment.

article-1382260-0BCCEDFD00000578-821_634x516Investment-risking on a potential starlet, FC Barcelona forked over for his treatment and moved him to Spain, where he rose through the ranks of their youth academy.

With consistent admiration from coaches, players and commentators around the world, Messi is perched atop the pyramid of soccer prowess. Any team would love to contract him. They would be willing to pay multiple millions of dollars. But Messi remains loyal to the Catalan kings because he’s grateful: when he was needy, they were there for him.

First you must invest to reap a harvest of blessing. Invest your most precious commodity: time. Pray.

Trophies here and there

imagesNobody else has won 4 Golden Balls. Argentine Lionel Messi netted an astounding 73 goals in 2012, and won the best world soccer star for a record number of times.

images-1And perennial runner-up Xavi Hernandez bowed out with humility. But the voices calling for Xavi to win at least one Golden Ball are many and loud. He’s very much a part of the reason why Messi does so well: he threads passes images-2through nettlesome defensive lines perfectly to the feet of the forward magician.

And who won the last World Cup? Spain — thanks in large part to Xavi, who images-3admirably pays respects to his Barca teammate. Alas, the accolades go to goals.

Service — as always — gets overlooked by the world. Xavi provides the service of brilliant play-making, masterminding images-4the game, unlocking stalwart defenses with dizzying and dazzling footwork.

If you want to be great in the kingdom of God, you must serve everybody. God will be rewarding servers. It won’t be a “world” cup though. It’s either gonna be a Heaven Cup or a Win-the-World-for-Christ Cup.

Score at will!

images-1We have won and lost games at Lighthouse Christian Academy this season, but the most memorable was the game against P.H. In that game, we literally could score at will. It was so much fun, images-2and most of the kids were going for hattricks (three goals in one game). As coach, I actually pulled my stars out of scoring position and even took them off the field to NOT humiliate our opponents any more. In the first 20 minutes, we racked up seven!

In life, when you pray with faith and urgency, you literally score at will. The successes hum. But when I pray tepid prayers, or when we neglect pray altogether, then we go through a losing streak. Step up your game today and pray! Have no mercy on the devil!

Admirable humility

Lionel Messi is arguably the best soccer player in the world at present. In 2,009, 2010 and 2011, he won FIFA’s best player of the year award. He has won five Spanish league titles with his club FC Barcelona, as well as three Champion’s Leagues. A lefty, Messi weaves through the world’s best defenders as if he lived in another dimension.

Strangely, he is humble.

The Argentine feels awkward when given an award at ceremonies, and he never talks trash about competitors. He always recognizes a debt of gratitude to his club, FC Barcelona, because it paid for his treatment of growth hormone deficiency when he was 11 years old.

In an post-Joe Namath age when super-athletes trumpet their own greatness, Messi is breath of fresh air. He is an example of Christian character even though he is not an evangelical Christian.

Why? Because he is grateful and humble. When we pray for finances and revival, we must remain grateful for what God has already given us, we must remain humble in patiently praying and waiting on God. Prayer is humility — it is an acknowledgement of our inadequacies and our dependence on a Higher Source.