Barcelona play the famous tiki-taka style of football. Their main aim to keep possession. They pass around for eons with excruciating patience until a goal opening shows up. Messi is perfect for the system. His small size, along with his quick movements make him ideal for literally passing through swarms of defenders. He plays in the center forward role, or rather just behind that position- popularly known as the false 9.
|It had to be Ibra or Messi!|
Another development in the Messi era is the emergence of the players who support him from behind the scenes. Sergio Busquets loves play acting, but at the end of the day, he gives you results! Xavi and Iniesta do not have that many assists as compared to Messi's goals, but they have a big part in the way Barcelona play. Players like Song, Mascherano and Fabregas have been brought in, but they either fail to break into the main team (Song) or adapt to fit into it (Mascherano is now a CB).
The way Messi plays is also characteristic of him. He would drop in deep sometimes, and let the winger come in the centre, whereas at times, he would make a quick run, and catch the defender ball watching. Also, La Liga referees are a bit stricter as compared to their English counterparts, and are ready to blow the whistle if you even touch Messi!
|Esteban Cambiasso (Inter) marking Messi, with Zanetti 2010|
|Terry, Mikel and Ballack cornering Messi, 2009|
|Chelsea took full advantage of the counter attacks, 2012|
|Bayern demolishing Barca, 2013|
In short, the Messi domination may be coming to an end. Barcelona were no great team to begin with- they just played well against the good teams, and very, very well against the bad, which made them look invincible. Yes, Messi is among the best, but the best player in the world, or as some commentators prefer- the best footballer the world has ever seen? I don't think so. Teams have shown in the past that tackling Messi hard is the solution to stopping him, among other things- and it's just their reluctance to do so that Messi has risen to such a level. A transfer to the English Premier League and a few matches against teams like Stoke and Blackburn ought to do the trick.
That being said, Bayern aren't invincible either. People maybe talking of a new superpower in football, but if they lose the upcoming Champions League final against arch-rivals Borussia Dortmund, who knows?