Messi off to great start, out­shin­ing Madrid trio

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

By him­self, Lionel Messi has al­ready scored more than Real Madrid’s top three for­wards com­bined.

The Barcelona star is off to one of the best starts of his ca­reer with 14 goals in 11 matches, two more than what Cris­tiano Ron­aldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Ben­zema have net­ted so far with Madrid.

And Messi has done it de­spite be­ing side­lined for three weeks be­cause of an in­jury.

“Messi has been su­perb,” Barcelona coach Luis En­rique said sim­ply. The Ar­gentina for­ward hadn’t started a sea­son with so many goals since 2011-12, when he scored 14 times in 10 matches. So far, Messi has al­ready scored eight more goals than he did last sea­son at the same point. He has two hat tricks and is the lead­ing scorer in both the Span­ish league and the Cham­pi­ons League. In his last six games, he has scored 11 goals, with six com­ing in the three games he played since re­cov­er­ing from a right groin strain.

Messi’s ri­vals at Madrid have not come close to him this sea­son. Ron­aldo has nine goals, but that in­cludes five with Por­tu­gal in World Cup qual­i­fy­ing. He is cur­rently in a slump in the Span­ish league with only two in six matches. “Of course Cris­tiano wants to score more,” Madrid de­fender Marcelo said. “But he is a player who helps a lot, and not only with goals, also with his work on the field.” Ben­zema scored his fourth goal of the sea­son in a Span­ish league game last week­end, while Bale has net­ted seven times in 14 ap­pear­ances.

Seven of Messi’s goals this sea­son were scored in the Span­ish league, with one in the Span­ish Su­per Cup and six from a cou­ple of hat tricks in the Cham­pi­ons League.The cur­rent form could leave the 29-year-old for­ward in po­si­tion to again win the Bal­lon d’Or award for the world’s best player. He has al­ready won the award five times, in­clud­ing last sea­son. Messi’s great scor­ing start is some­what of a sur­prise be­cause in the last few years he has taken more of a play­maker role af­ter the ad­di­tions of Luis Suarez and Ney­mar. The trio broke scor­ing records in each of the last two sea­sons, with Suarez lead­ing the way last sea­son. The Uruguay striker has opened with 10 goals in 13 ap­pear­ances, while Ney­mar has found the net six times in 10 matches this sea­son. Barcelona plays Espanyol in the Cat­alo­nia Su­per Cup on Tues­day, but nei­ther Messi nor any of the other reg­u­lar starters will be play­ing. Messi’s next chance to in­crease his goal tally will likely be Satur­day against last­place Granada, a team that has al­ready con­ceded 23 goals in nine Span­ish league matches. —AFP

GLAS­GOW: Scot­land’s team man­ager Gor­don Stra­chan (L) and for­mer Manchester United coach Sir Alex Ferguson at­tend the launch of the Glas­gow Host City logo for UEFA Euro 2020 at the Glas­gow Sci­ence Cen­tre in Glas­gow, Scot­land yes­ter­day. — AFP

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