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Messi outshines Walcott (and everyone else on the planet)
So much hype about how Theo Walcott could be the difference and help Arsenal oust Barcelona from the Champions League on Tuesday night proved a bit unfortunate, didn’t it? Walcott again produced a frustrating performance as he was outshone by the wizard that is Lionel Messi.
Let’s get one thing out of the way. Comparisons with Messi would make unfortunate reading for anyone but that doesn’t alter the fact that Walcott, for all that wonderful talent, lacked confidence and conviction when he was most needed.
After a bright 25 minutes where he once again showed his pace to sprint away and help set up Arsenal’s goal, Walcott vanished and so did Arsenal’s hopes of getting the improbable result they required to advance to the last four.
The goal came against the run of play and that was as good as it got for Arsenal. As Barcelona fullback Eric Abidal was bombing forward to help support Messi and co, Walcott had space to run into, but after Bendtner’s strike Abidal reverted back to a defensive role and he and his replacement Maxwell chaperoned Walcott for the remainder of the game.
While Messi, Pedro and Bojan Krkic interchanged at will to find space and time, consistently making themselves available for midfielders Xavi, Sergio Busquets, Seydou Keita and Yaya Toure, Walcott stopped making the darting runs, and time and time again gave away the ball.
It must have been rather sad viewing for Arsenal fans, even if there was plenty for everyone to enjoy in the performance of Messi and his team mates.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is constantly lauded for his achievements and his ability to get the best from young players. There is still plenty of time for him to work the same magic with Walcott. Will he manage it?
PHOTO: Barcelona’s Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring his fourth goal against Arsenal during their Champions League quarter-final, second leg at Nou Camp stadium in Barcelona April 6, 2010. REUTERS/Gustau Nacarino.