Is Lionel Messi really better than Diego
Maradona? Was Johan Cruyff a more
complete footballer than Alfredo Di
Stefano? And is it right that when most
people nowadays hear the name ‘Ronaldo’,
they immediately think of Cristiano rather
than a certain Luis Nazario de Lima?
These are just some of the questions Goal
is hoping you can answer for us in our
new, interactive series: the Legends World
That’s right, we are pitting the most
famous figures in football history against
one another in a knockout tournament to
determine the greatest player of all time –
and the best thing about the competition
is that the victor will be decided by you!
Our panel of experts from across the globe
has, after many, many hours of
deliberation and debate, selected 16
participants and paired them off to create
eight knockout matches – which we want
our readers to vote on to determine who
goes through to the quarters, last four and
then the final.
First up, on Wednesday, March 23, Messi
will take on his former Barcelona team-
mate Ronaldinho, Dutch deity Cruyff will
challenge Real Madrid icon Di Stefano, AC
Milan legend Paolo Maldini will tackle
Franz ‘Der Kaiser’ Beckenbauer and
Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo
will lock horns with the ‘real’ Ronaldo.
The following day, Pele, ‘the King of
football’, will go toe-to-toe with the
immortal Eusebio, Michel Platini and
Zinedine Zidane will vie for the right to be
called France’s finest No.10 ever, Ferenc
Puskas will face off with fellow striking
sensation Marco van Basten before we
conclude with a battle of the bad boys
between Maradona and George Best.
Who will come out on top? Who will win
the inaugural Legends World Cup? It’s up
to you to decide!
LEGENDS WORLD CUP SCHEDULE (All
Wednesday 23 – Last 16:
Lionel Messi v Ronaldinho (0900)
Johan Cruyff v Alfredo Di Stefano (1000)
Paolo Maldini v Franz Beckenbauer (1100)
Ronaldo v Cristiano (1200)
Thursday 24 – Last 16:
Pele v Eusebio (0900)
Michel Platini v Zinedine Zidane (1000)
Ferenc Puskas v Marco van Basten (1100)
George Best v Diego Maradona (1200)
Friday 25 – Last 16 Results
Saturday 26 – Quarter-finals:
Messi/Ronaldinho v Cruyff/Di Stefano
Maldini/Beck’ v Ronaldo/Cristiano (1000)
Pele/Eusebio v Platini/Zidane (1100)
Puskas/Van Basten v Best/Maradona
Sunday 27 – Quarter-final Results
Monday 28 – Semi-finals:
Messi/Ronaldinho/Cruyff/Di Stefano v
Pele/Eusebio/Platini/Zidane v Puskas/Van
Tuesday 29 – Semi-final Results
Wednesday 30 – Final:
? v ? (0900)
The fearsome Blaugrana attacking trident were at it again on Wednesday with a goal each, while Elneny’s wonder-strike proved too little,
late for Arsene Wenger’s charges
Two-third of Barcelona’s MSN were on target at Camp Nou to ensure easy passage to the Champions League quarter-finals, as Neymar and Luis Suarez hit in each half to secure a 3-1 victory over Arsenal.
The aggregate margin in favour of Luis Enrique’s team was 5-1 but Lionel Messi’s first-leg brace at Emirates Stadium did not discourage the Premier League side from playing with plenty of enthusiasm in Wednesday’s return.
All three of Barca’s esteemed forward trio were on target this time around, with Neymar punishing slack defending after 18 minutes.
Mohamed Elneny and Alexis Sanchez wasted chances to equalise before the break but a splendid finish from the former allowed him to chalk up a maiden Arsenal goal on the grandest of stages six minutes into the second half.
That superb effort gave Arsenal a glimmer of hope, with Arsene Wenger’s men requiring two more goals in a little under 40 minutes, but they were ultimately undone by the remainder of Barca’s fearsome three-pronged attack.
Suarez provided unforgettable fireworks and Messi added a late third to keep Barcelona on course to retain their European crown and leave Arsenal – out of the FA Cup and adrift in the Premier League title race – to reflect on a sixth successive last-16 exit.
Danny Welbeck scuffed an early chance wide via his standing foot and Arsenal were encouraged by an uncharacteristically untidy start from their hosts.
Mesut Ozil left Sergio Busquets on the seat of his shorts and advanced to send a shot whistling past Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s right-hand post.
Barcelona offered a glorious demonstration of their quality in the 17th minute when Neymar expertly picked out Messi with a raking pass.
Messi’s first touch was exquisite but Arsenal goalkeeper David Ospina similarly pulled a save out of the top drawer.
Jeremy Mathieu was allowed a free header on the bounce from the resulting corner and a short and sharp spell of Barcelona pressure ended with the opening goal.
Hector Bellerin allowed Neymar to sprint through goal-side of him and the manner in which he collected Suarez’s pass and slotted home came with frustrating ease for Wenger.
A heavy touch meant Elneny allowed a 38th-minute opening to pass him by and Sanchez headed a Bellerin cross wide when he should have punished his former employers.
The industrious Alex Iwobi – a surprise starter – had an early second-half strike deflected into the side netting by Dani Alves before Arsenal pulled level on the night in wonderful fashion.
Sanchez cut a low pass from the left into Elneny’s path and the midfielder steered a crisp side-footed shot into the top-right corner.
Barca emerged from their latest slumber with a lightning combination between Neymar and Messi – the Brazilian’s backheel setting up his team-mate to force Ospina into a low save – although a timely recovery tackle from Javier Mascherano prevented Welbeck from ramping up the unexpected anxiety inside Camp Nou.
But where Arsenal lacked precision to go with their enthusiasm, Suarez contributed decisively with his 43rd goal of the season – and arguably his best – in the 65th minute.
Alves hung a cross towards the back post where Suarez contorted himself and sprung acrobatically to send a spectacular volley beyond a helpless Ospina
His opposite number Ter Stegen made a double save from Sanchez and substitute Olivier Giroud, before Messi’s impudent dink underlined the gulf in penalty area class two minutes from time
The Argentine has now scored nine goals
against the Gunners as his fine finish
rounded off a 3-1 win at Camp Nou on
Another game and another record set by
Lionel Messi – this time at the expense of
The Argentine capped off a 3-1 victory on
Wednesday evening with a stunning
scooped finish from close range, although
the goal of the night was Luis Suarez’s
sublime effort to put Barcelona 2-1 up.
But Messi’s goal was his ninth against
Arsenal in the Champions League – and no
other player in the competition’s history
has scored more against a single
The Argentine has scored at least 20 goals
in La Liga for the eighth season – and no
other player in the history of the Spanish
top flight can match that
This time the Argentine struck twice in a
4-0 win over Eibar to take his tally to 21
goals in La Liga this season.
It’s the eighth campaign that Messi has
scored 20 or more goals in the Spanish
top flight – and no other player can match
Cristiano Ronaldo is close behind with 20-
plus goals across seven La Liga seasons,
while Alfredo Di Stefano, Ferenc Puskas,
Quini and Telmo Zarra all struck 20 or
more times in six seasons.
Hugo Sanchez and former Valencia striker
Mundo scored 20-plus goals in five La
Barca’s outstanding attacking trio have
now netted 100 goals between them this
term and they are well on course to
improve on last season’s tally of 122 for
the Catalan club
Barcelona’s brilliant trident cannot stop
scoring. Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and
Neymar have now netted 100 goals
between them for the Catalan club in
2015-16 and are well on course to
improve on last season’s tally of 122. The
best are getting even better.
Neymar was missing through suspension
as Barca beat Eibar 4-0 on Sunday, the
Brazilian back in his homeland to
celebrate his sister’s birthday. But in his
absence, Munir El Haddadi opened the
scoring for the Blaugrana , before Messi
netted twice and Suarez the fourth to bring
up yet another milestone in a record 36th
unbeaten game for Luis Enrique’s side.
This time last season, Barca’s MSN trio
had scored 75 times and the three
forwards would go on to convert 122 as
the Catalans claimed a treble of Liga,
Copa del Rey and Champions League
Now, the three South Americans are in
with a chance of leading Barca to an
unprecedented second successive treble,
while they are well on course to smash
their tally in front of goal from the
Earlier this season, Luis Enrique was asked
if Messi, Suarez and Neymar were the best
front three the club had ever had and said:
“They form the best trident in Barca’s
history and I would even dare to say the
best in the history of football.”
Messi dropped deep to spray passes all
over the pitch early on against Eibar, but
scored a memorable goal as he ran from
midfield past several defenders and slotted
a precise shot past goalkeeper Asier
Riesgo and into the corner. It was a
moment of magic that had many of the
Basque side’s supporters on their feet.
The Argentine attacker added another from
the penalty spot as he dinked a spot-kick
straight down the middle and Suarez
scored with six minutes remaining with a
goal so typical of him: a mixture of power,
physique, strength and technique as he
nutmegged a defender and shook off two
more with his body before converting with
a low angled finish.
That was the Uruguayan’s 42nd goal of
the season, while Messi now has 35 in
2015-16 (despite spending almost two
months on the sidelines through October
and November) and Neymar has netted 23
Suarez sat out the first two months of last
season due to his ban for biting Italy’s
Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup, but
ended the campaign with 25 goals from
his 43 appearances. This term, he has
played two games fewer than that so far,
yet he has scored 17 more already.
Messi, meanwhile, is making up for lost
time. The five-time Ballon d’Or winner has
hit 22 already in 2016 and is scoring at
virtually the same rate that saw him net a
record 91 in 2012. Back then, he had 24 to
his name at this stage.
In those days, however, Barca were much
more reliant on one man to score the
majority of their goals and that is not the
case any more. Overall, Messi hit 58 in 57
appearances in 2014-15 and he should
come close to that mark if he stays fit for
the remainder of the current campaign. He
may even beat it, while Neymar (despite a
dip in form in recent weeks) could better
his own tally of 39 from last season.
In total, Barca have 10 league games left,
as well as the final of the Copa del Rey
and up to six more matches in the
Champions League, so with the way the
trio – Messi and Suarez especially – are
converting at the moment, they seem
certain to set a new goals record in the
“Today we played even better than we did
against Rayo,” Luis Enrique said in
reference to Thursday’s 5-1 win in the
capital. “And I thought we were
spectacular in that game.”
“These players are so good that when they
are at this level, it is very difficult to stop
That is true of the entire team right now,
but especially of Messi, Suarez and
Neymar. One hundred goals up and many
more to come, the trio have also improved
other areas of their game including key
passes, dribbling and their link-up play
So while it may have seemed impossible
last season, MSN 2.0 is already an
upgrade on last season’s treble-winning
version. And the bad news for everybody
else is that they have the potential to be
even better still.