Last week, the younger generation of football fans were introduced to the man who was Messi before Lionel Messi. The death of Raymond Kopa opened the eyes of the younger generation to a man who was even more little than Lionel Messi ( about half inches smaller) but was just as fast, agile and also made defender regret choosing this profession like Messi does in most weeks in La Liga. No, Kopa isn’t Argentine neither did he play for Barcelona; Kopa played for France but was born into a family of Polish immigrant, who moved to France from Germany after the First World War. Losing a finger while working in the coal mines of Nœux-les did nothing to stop Kopa from being one of the greatest players of his generation, leading Reims to four league titles and an European Cup final, where he lost to Real Madrid in 1956. His performance in that European Cup final secured a move to Real Madrid, where he formed one of football’s deadliest attack alongside Alfredo Di Stefano and Ferenc Puskas- the oldies equivalent of BBC or MSN. Real Madrid was where Kopa’s international recognition was born and his legendary status assured; becoming the first French player to win the Balon dór, as well as two La Liga titles and three European Cup titles. We start ‘Everything La Liga’ by paying our last respect to one of the greatest players to walk the earth.
Who did Messi call?
There have been many theories to who Messi was referring to during his celebration after scoring his 22nd league goal of the season. To Barcelona’s president? Maybe, there is still that lingering contract talk between him and the club that needs to be ironed out and the Argentine might feel it is time to talk. Maybe his partner?, seriously doubt that- such is left for the other room. My guess is likely PSG. Barcelona’s performance was tailored to show they are more than capable of scoring five goals, if we ever needed a reminder. The performance was ludicrous and professional at the same time. More importantly was the fact that they didn’t concede a goal against one of the highest scoring side in the league, whom they also conceded four in the first leg. They expanded the Camp Nou beautifully, Messi switched into that mode that makes it seem Judas Iscariot wasn’t such a big sinner after all (Messi commits far greater crimes to defenders). Neymar joined the party and he has never needed an invitation, not when he does something as silly as his goal which was Barcelona’ second of the night.
Finally as a Nigerian, swiping your fingers in the air the way Messi did can only be interpreted as “beating”. Seriously folks, Messi is telling PSG that the devil has rented the Camp Nou on Wednesday and it is going to be Hell!
Who brought back Benzema?
It felt like Karim Benzema’s search for form was going to take longer than #BringBackOurGirls, but the French man has eventually found where he kept his senses all along. If there was ever a game, Real Madrid needed Benzema, it was this one- without Ronaldo or Bale. The only available member of the BBC trident, Benzema gave it his all, with two goals and a assist that ensured a comfortable victory for the Los Blancos. Zinedine Zidane had more problems than Will Smith in the ‘Pursuit of Happiness’, but the Real Madrid boss showed his balls were made of Iron Man’ suit by opting to bench Carvajal, Marcelo, Toni Kroos and Isco in the game. Zidane has often shown faith in the fringe players and they all turned up by rewarding his faith in them. Youngster Marco Asensio showed he lacked home training by ridiculing men, who had old enough to be his father with his guile on the ball. Lucas Vasquez was tireless on the wings like his father is Haile Gebrselassie and James Rodriguez did nothing but aid his cause in cementing a place in the starting eleven.
Griezmann starts what he can finish
Antoine Griezmann probably confused Valencia for the people who took the Champions League, Euros and the Balon ‘dor away from him, as he unleashed a performance Valencia would have only wished on Gary Neville or Cesare Prandelli’s next team; he literally broke them like crackers biscuits. This is the kind of performance Atletico Madrid needed all season; Griezmann firing, solid midfield and a defense that grants the keeper a leave. But these performances have come in trickles and that is why they are 11 points from the top. Atletico Madrid’s league campaign have seem like a dress rehearsal for another crack at the Champions League, the only trophy Diego Simeone hasn’t won at Atletico Madrid.
Written by Joseph Bassey- follow on Twitter @akajoebass