Tag Archives: magician

Carlos Tevez will appear in court on April 3 charged with driving offences

Tevez handed April court date after being charged with driving offences

By
Graeme Yorke

PUBLISHED:

17:41 GMT, 13 March 2013

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UPDATED:

18:03 GMT, 13 March 2013

Carlos Tevez has been charged with driving offences and will appear in court next month.

The Manchester City striker arrived at a police station on Wednesday afternoon as he faces further issues with driving in England.

He has now been charged with driving while disqualified and driving without insurance. He will appear at Macclesfield Magistrates' Court on April 3.

Tevez was arrested last week on
suspicion of driving while disqualified, having been banned in January
after pleading guilty to counts of failing to furnish information
relating to incidents in which one of his vehicles was caught speeding.

Visit: Carlos Tevez (pictured at the back of the people carrier) arrives at the police station

Visit: Carlos Tevez (pictured at the back of the people carrier) arrives at the police station

Visit: Carlos Tevez (pictured at the back of the people carrier) arrives at the police station

If found guilty of the latest alleged offence, Tevez could face a six-month prison term.

Earlier today, he arrived in the back of a black people carrier at Cheshire Constabulary Custody Suite in Middlewich.

Tevez will be represented in his driving case by a lawyer who Manchester City staff have dubbed ‘Merlin the Magician’ because of his immaculate record of defending the Barclays Premier League champions’ players from alleged motoring offences.

Tevez’s solicitor Gywn Lewis has been labelled a magician by the club because of his ability to make ‘many worrying cases disappear’, according to law firm Burton Copeland’s website.

Driving force: Carlos Tevez was at City's Carrington training base this afternoon

Driving force: Carlos Tevez was at City's Carrington training base this afternoon

Banned: Tevez was disqualified from driving for speeding offences

Banned: Tevez was disqualified from driving for speeding offences

The Manchester-based law firm’s
website says of the solicitor: 'In an area of law where detail is
paramount, “Merlin the Magician” as he is called by personnel at
Manchester City Football Club for whom he regularly acts, has made many
worrying cases disappear.'

Lewis
is also described by his employers as someone who, over the past 20
years, 'has concentrated on his passion for defending motorists' and
'has developed a track record of unrivalled success, ranging from minor
speeding, traffic light and mobile phone infringements to the most
serious cases of drink driving and death by dangerous driving.'

Former City stars Joey Barton, Shaun
Wright-Phillips and Danny Mills have written testimonials on Burton
Copeland’s specialist website drivingoffences.com

Dazzling: Carlos Tevez scored a hat-trick in City's FA Cup tie against Barnsley

Dazzling: Carlos Tevez scored a hat-trick in City's FA Cup tie against Barnsley

Wright-Phillips wrote: 'I had need to call upon the services of drivingoffence.com and in particular Gwyn Lewis.

'I can say that I am more than happy with the thoroughly professional way in which they brought my matters to a successful conclusion.'

Despite the alleged driving offence, City manager Roberto Mancini started Tevez in City's 5-0 FA Cup hammering of Barnsley on Saturday.

The Argentina forward scored a tremendous hat-trick and set up goals for team-mates Aleksandar Kolarov and David Silva.

Rio Ferdinand tweets that anyone comparing Gareth Bale to Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo "doesn"t know football"

Think Bale is on the same level as Ronaldo and Messi You don't know football, says Rio

PUBLISHED:

09:36 GMT, 27 February 2013

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UPDATED:

09:43 GMT, 27 February 2013

Rio Ferdinand believes anyone who compares Tottenham’s Gareth Bale to Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo or Barcelona magician Lionel Messi ‘doesn’t know football’.

The Manchester United defender tweeted to his four million followers that Bale needs to keep scoring at this rate for three or four years for there even to be a debate.

He wrote: ‘People mentioning Bale in the same breath as @Cristiano + Messi really don’t know football! Bale been 1 of best 2 in PL this year but….

'Don't know football!' Rio Ferdinand has slammed those comparing Gareth Bale (below) to Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, saying the last two are on a different planet

'Don't know football!' Rio Ferdinand has slammed those comparing Gareth Bale (below) to Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, saying the last two are on a different planet

Best in the world Gareth Bale's spectacular strike for Spurs against West Ham on Monday led to comparisons with the greatest players in the world

Best in the world Gareth Bale's spectacular strike for Spurs against West Ham on Monday led to comparisons with the greatest players in the world

‘He is not on CR7 + Messi’s level yet…he carries on doing what he is doing for 2/3yrs then there can be a debate.

‘Bale showed me a clean pair of heals once this year so I’m in good position to judge! CR7 + Messi have been on another planet for 4-5yrs #consistent #KeepItClean’

Bale has already scored 15 goals in the Premier League this season — earning Tottenham an astonishing 15 points on his own.

Number one: Cristiano Ronaldo reminded us of his quality by scoring two goals for Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey semi-final with Barcelona last night

Number one: Cristiano Ronaldo reminded us of his quality by scoring two goals for Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey semi-final with Barcelona last night

Hot property: Lionel Messi has scored 49 goals for Barcelona already this season

Hot property: Lionel Messi has scored 49 goals for Barcelona already this season

Without him Spurs would be way off their quest for fourth place, languishing down in ninth position in the table. Statistics show manager Andre Villas-Boas has been given Bale free rein to roam the park and be selfish — he is making fewer passes and creating fewer goals than last season but scoring far more.

When Cristiano Ronaldo was Bale’s age at 23, he won the Ballon d’Or after scoring scored 31 goals for Manchester United at a rate of one goal every 89 minutes, with a shooting accuracy of 59 per cent.

So far this season Bale has scored 15 goals at a rate of one goal every 135 minutes, with a shooting accuracy of 57 per cent.

Loic Remy to join QPR after Newcastle deal is hijacked

Toon blow as QPR hijack 8m Remy switch with M'Vila also set to join Redknapp revolution

By
Colin Young

PUBLISHED:

19:43 GMT, 14 January 2013

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UPDATED:

19:43 GMT, 14 January 2013

Queens Park Rangers are confident they have hijacked Loic Remy's move to England after they were given permission to speak to the Marseille striker by the French club on Monday night.

Newcastle had agreed to meet Marseille's 8million valuation of the France international and he travelled to Tyneside on Sunday for talks with Alan Pardew and director Derek Llambias.

Hijack: QPR are poised to sign Remy from Marseille

Hijack: QPR are poised to sign Remy from Marseille

Remy had refused to talk to QPR last
week but after the Barclays Premier League' s bottom club matched
Marseille's offer, they were given official permission to negotiate a
deal.

It is understood Rangers have
offered more than 70,000-a-week to the 26-year-old former Lyon and Nice
striker who was Newcastle's No 1 target following Demba Ba's move to
Chelsea.

Yann M'Vila is also set to join Remy at Loftus Road. Harry Redknapp flew to France after Saturday’s goalless draw against Tottenhan to look at the Rennes star, with a deal close to completion.

Former Newcastle and QPR midfielder Joey Barton revealed Remy had had a change of heart.

He tweeted: 'Just heard from a
magician that Loic Remy has signed for QPR. Not sure what happened at
Newcastle Llambias again'

Steven Gerrard says Liverpool were at their best against QPR

Liverpool are back to their best! Skipper Gerrard hails win over QPR

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UPDATED:

19:32 GMT, 30 December 2012

Captain Steven Gerrard felt Liverpool’s first-half performance in their 3-0 win at QPR was their best of the season.

The Anfield club scored three goals in 13 minutes, with Luis Suarez getting two and Daniel Agger the other, and were in control beyond that.

They were hardly tested by a Rangers side in big trouble at the bottom and Gerrard admitted his men had been on the money.

Season's best: Liverpool's Luis Suarez (right) celebrates scoring his side's second goal

Season's best: Liverpool's Luis Suarez (right) celebrates scoring his side's second goal

'I wouldn’t say it was easy, that would be disrespectful to QPR, they are having a tough time,” he told Sky Sports 1.

'If we started well we knew we could quieten the crowd and that was the best we’ve played this season in the first half.

Back to their best: Steven Gerrard says Liverpool's win was their best performance of the season

Back to their best: Steven Gerrard says Liverpool's win was their best performance of the season

'The plan was for us to get more goals, but Harry Redknapp is a top manager and QPR changed things in the second half so credit to them.”

Suarez’s goals added further to the brilliant season he has had and Gerrard added of the Uruguayan: 'He’s been brilliant ever since he came here. He’s a magician.

'These clubs have to play him twice a season but we have to play against him every day!'

Coach Colin Pascoe took the Liverpool side in the absence of the ill Brendan Rodgers and he agreed with Gerrard’s assessment of Suarez.

'He’s a maverick, he’s brilliant, I can’t speak highly enough of him. He’s a true gentleman,' he said.

'But all of the lads were magnificent. The chances we created were phenomenal. We could have had a couple more. Some of our play was exciting to watch and I’m sure our fans will be happy tonight.

'It was fantastic to watch, the way the lads passed the ball around and the weight of our chances.'

Andres Iniesta: Secret to Barcelona"s success – constant evolution

Football perfection Impossible. Constant evolution is secret of Barcelona's success

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UPDATED:

09:48 GMT, 21 December 2012

Barcelona star Andres Iniesta believes football perfection is impossible to attain and that instead his team focus on evolving every year.

The midfield magician, who is up for the this year’s FIFA's Ballon d'Or award against superstars Leonel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, says improvement not perfection is the aim of the squad at the Nou Camp.

Speaking to BBC's Football Focus programme, the 28-year-old said: 'There is no such thing as the perfect player. Everyone can improve and things can be done better. I rate myself as someone who enjoys the learning process and someone who tries to be better every year.

Team ethic: Iniesta believes football perfection is impossible

Team ethic: Iniesta believes football perfection is impossible

'Perfection doesn't exist. There are players who are close but it is almost impossible to be perfect. If that was the case there wouldn’t be evolution in football.

'I don't consider myself a star. I consider myself a footballer who tries to improve myself by doing things well. What really makes me happy is when I feel I've improved at the end of each year and I hope this feeling can go on and on.'

Iniesta is a key part of the record-breaking Barcelona and Spanish national team that has won both the World Cup and last two European Champions and completed another year at the top of the FIFA world rankings.

United front: Iniesta was among the players present at the press conference where boss Tito Vilanova's cancer relapse was announced

United front: Iniesta was among the players present at the press conference where boss Tito Vilanova's cancer relapse was announced

United front: Iniesta was among the players present at the press conference where boss Tito Vilanova's cancer relapse was announced

Barcelona announced on Thursday that Tito Vilanova’s operation on his parotid gland had gone 'as expected' as the 44-year-old began a second battle with cancer.

Vilanova, who also had a tumour removed from his throat in November last year, will now start six weeks of chemotherapy.

In a statement, the club said: 'Vilanova’s surgical procedure has gone as expected. His clinical progress will determine how long he remains in hospital.

'The expected timeframe has been maintained. Tito asks for his privacy and confidentiality to be respected.'

Gold standard: Iniesta was among the Ballon D'Or nominees

Gold standard: Iniesta was among the Ballon D'Or nominees

You can watch the full interview on Saturday at 12.15pm on BBC One.

Andre Villas-Boas in funny pose on touchline

AVBeast! Was Spurs boss firing up his men with Olympic star Blake's growl during Everton defeat

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UPDATED:

20:13 GMT, 9 December 2012

Andre Villas-Boas was spotted on the sidelines in a strange pose as he tried to inspire his Tottenham side against Everton.

With a grimace on his face and hands outstretched, the Portuguese boss was animated on the touchline.

Wild: Andre Villas-Boas strikes a funny pose, similar to that of Yohan Blake or Tommy Cooper (below)

Wild: Andre Villas-Boas strikes a funny pose, similar to that of Yohan Blake or Tommy Cooper (below)

Yohan Blake

Tommy Cooper

Maybe he was trying to replicate sprinter Yohan's Blake's 'beast' pose to scare his team into action

Or perhaps he was attempting to conjure some more fire in his Tottenham side, a-la magician Tommy Cooper.

But whatever he was trying, it didn't work as Everton ended up winning with two late goals.

Lionel Messi"s record-breaking 2012 – month by month, game by game

Month by month, goal by goal… The diary of Messi's extraordinary record-breaking year

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UPDATED:

21:27 GMT, 9 December 2012

He's done it! Lionel Messi needed just 25 minutes of Barcelona's match at Real Betis to surpass Gerd Muller's long-standing record for goalscoring in a calendar year.

The Argentine magician needed to reach the magic number of 86 strikes for club and country and he wasted little time in achieving it.

In this Sportsmail special, we take a look back at a wonderful year for the little wizard.

Record breaker! Messi celebrates scoring against Real Betis, on the night he beat Gerd Muller's 40-year-old goalscoring record

Record breaker! Messi celebrates scoring against Real Betis, on the night he beat Gerd Muller's 40-year-old goalscoring record

JANUARY

Goals for Barcelona – 7

With 27 club goals already under his belt in the first half of the season, Ballon D’Or winner Messi entered 2012 in irresistible form and officially the best player in the world. And he wasted little time in finding the net in the New Year, with a double against Osasuna in the Copa Del Rey.

Barcelona weren't exactly struggling to make an impact in the tie, but Messi was introduced for Pedro on the hour. The tempo was cranked up and up after his introduction and he scored first with a header after ghosting into the six yard box and then with a left-foot curler from just inside the box.

He scored five times in La Liga during the month as Barca kept snapping at the heels of Real Madrid at the top of La Liga, but didn’t manage to net in the two-legged Cup Clasico.

ACCOLADE! Messi collected the Ballon D'Or for the third consecutive year at the start of the year.

Officially the best: Lionel Messi started 2012 on a high after being voted the FIFA Ballon D'Or winner for the third consecutive year. Here, he parades the trophy before the Copa Del Rey match with Real Madrid at the Nou Camp

Officially the best: Lionel Messi started 2012 on a high after being voted the FIFA Ballon D'Or winner for the third consecutive year. Here, he parades the trophy before the Copa Del Rey match with Real Madrid at the Nou Camp

JANUARY GOALS AND APPEARANCES

4th – Two goals vs. Osasuna in Copa Del Rey (4-0)

8th – vs. Espanyol (1-1)

12th – vs. Osasuna in Copa Del Rey (2-1)

15th – Two goals vs. Real Betis (4-2)

18th – vs. Real Madrid in Copa Del Rey (2-1)

22nd – Three goals vs. Malaga (4-1)

25th – vs. Real Madrid in Copa Del Rey (2-2)

28th – vs. Villarreal (0-0)

FEBRUARY

Goals for Barcelona – 7 Goals for Argentina – 3 Running total – 17

Another prolific month, which saw ten goals for club and country. The highlights included a four-goal haul in a 5-1 win over Valencia and a hat-trick for Argentina in a friendly match against Switzerland.

His quartet against Valencia was masterful – first, he squeezed the ball in from a seemingly impossible angle to bring Barca level, then a couple of poacher's finishes delivered him a hat-trick. The best, however, was saved until last with a burst clear and delicious chip.

LANDMARK! The 5-1 win over Valencia was Messi's 200th La Liga appearance.

The match against Switzerland showed that Messi is equally adept in front of goal for his country as for his club. He created and finished his first goal, running diagonally towards the penalty area, exchanging passes, and then finding the bottom corner.

The second saw Messi drive at the heart of the Swiss defence, work a shooting position and chip in off the crossbar, with the third a perfect penalty.

Four-some! Messi celebrates one of his quartet of goals in the La Liga match against Valencia

Four-some! Messi celebrates one of his quartet of goals in the La Liga match against Valencia

FEBRUARY GOALS AND APPEARANCES

1st – vs. Valencia in Copa Del Rey (1-1)

4th – One goal vs. Real Sociedad (2-1)

8th – vs. Valencia in Copa Del Rey (2-0)

11th – vs. Osasuna (2-3)

14th – One goal vs. Bayer Leverkusen in Champions League second round, first leg (3-1)

19th – Four goals vs. Valencia (5-1)

26th – One goal vs. Atletico Madrid (2-1)

29th – Three goals vs. Switzerland (3-1)

MARCH

Goals for Barcelona – 13 Running total – 30

Messi started March in magnificent style, scoring five goals in the second leg of Barcelona’s Champions League second round match with Bayer Leverkusen as part of a 7-1 rout.

Two of his goals were sumptuous chips which left the Bayer goalkeeper red-faced, while the last of his five was a great blast into the bottom corner from the edge of the area.

RECORD! The feat meant he was the first player to score five goals in a Champions League match since the tournament’s re-branding in 1992.

Five stars: Messi destroyed Bayer Leverkusen with five goals in the second leg of their Champions League meeting in March

Five stars: Messi destroyed Bayer Leverkusen with five goals in the second leg of their Champions League meeting in March

It was a phenomenally prolific month in La Liga too, as Barcelona tries to keep pace with Real – he scored eight goals in just five matches and the only time he failed to hit the target was in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final in Milan.

MARCH GOALS AND APPEARANCES

7th – Five goals vs. Bayer Leverkusen in Champions League second round, second leg (7-1)

11th – Two goals vs. Racing Santander (2-0)

17th – One goal vs. Seville (2-0)

20th – Three goals vs. Granada (5-3)

24th – One goal vs. Real Mallorca (2-0)

28th – vs. AC Milan in the Champions League quarter-final, first leg (0-0)

31st – One goal vs. Athletic Bilbao (2-0)


APRIL

Goals for Barcelona – 9 Running total – 39

He made amends for the blank in the first leg by scoring a double at the Nou Camp as Barcelona reached the last four 3-1 on aggregate.

His first was a testament to perseverance, initially stealing the ball to sprint clear on goal and then turning sharply to win a penalty, which he converted. The reasons for the second spot-kick were less clear but again Messi made no mistake.

RECORD! This took his Champions League tally to 14 goals in the season, enough to make him the competition’s top goalscorer for a fourth consecutive season.

Low point: Barcelona's hopes of retaining the Champions League ended in April when they were beaten 3-2 on aggregate by Chelsea

Low point: Barcelona's hopes of retaining the Champions League ended in April when they were beaten 3-2 on aggregate by Chelsea

He didn’t, however, score in either leg against Chelsea, who dumped Barcelona out 3-2 on aggregate to reach the final with Bayern Munich.

As the league season reached crunch time, Messi netted seven goals but, importantly, he didn’t convert any chances in the 2-1 home defeat by Real which practically handed Jose Mourinho’s side the title on April 21.

APRIL GOALS AND APPEARANCES

3rd – Two goals vs. AC Milan in the Champions League quarter-final, second leg (3-1)

7th – Two goals vs. Real Zaragoza (4-1)

10th – One goal vs. Getafe (4-0)

14th – Two goals vs. Levante (2-1)

18th – vs. Chelsea in the Champions League semi-final, first leg (0-1)

21st – vs. Real Madrid (1-2)

24th – vs. Chelsea in the Champions League semi-final, second leg (2-2)

29th – Two goals vs. Rayo Vallecano (7-0)

MAY

Goals for Barcelona – 8 Running total – 47

The last month of the 2011-2012 saw another sackful of goals and records, but just one trophy to add to the 13 he already had in the Pep Guardiola era – the Copa Del Rey. Barcelona didn't do enough however to prevent Real Madrid winning the La Liga title.

RECORD! His hat-trick against Malaga on May 2
meant Messi surpassed Gerd Muller’s single season goalscoring record
from 1972-1973 with three matches left to play.

Muller scored 67 in that campaign for Bayern Munich, while Messi now had 68. In doing so, he became the highest goalscorer in a European season in history.

End of an era: Pep Guardiola left Barcelona in May, having won 14 honours in four years at the club

End of an era: Pep Guardiola left Barcelona in May, having won 14 honours in four years at the club

RECORD! This then became a world best when a remarkable four goals in the Catalan derby with Espanyol took his tally to 72 and leapfrogged Archie Stark, who scored 70 for Bethlehem Steel in the 1924-1925 American Soccer League.

He showed his set-piece prowess in this one, converting two penalties and a 25-yard free-kick.

TROPHY! His goal in the 3-0 Copa Del Rey final win over Athletic Bilbao helped deliver Barcelona the Cup for the 26th time.

TOTAL! In the 2011-2012 season, Messi managed 73 goals and 29 assists in all competitions. This included 50 goals in La Liga, making him the Golden Boot winner. He was also the league's second highest provider of assists with 16, one shy of Real Madrid's Mesut Ozil.

MAY GOALS AND APPEARANCES

2nd – Three goals vs. Malaga (4-1)

5th – Four goals vs. Espanyol (4-0)

12th – vs. Real Betis (2-2)

25th – One goal vs. Athletic Bilbao in the Copa Del Rey final (3-0)

JUNE

Goals for Argentina – 4 Running total – 51

The club season may have finished but Messi was still in the goalscoring groove for Argentina – and June also brought great personal news.

BABY! When he scored in the 4-0 World Cup qualifying win over Ecuador, his 23 rd goal for Argentina, he celebrated by placing the ball up his shirt, suggesting his girlfriend Antonella Roccuzzo was pregnant.

She later confirmed the news on Twitter.

International class: June was a month in which Messi showed his class for Argentina

International class: June was a month in which Messi showed his class for Argentina

A week later, Messi's season ended in trademark superlative style with a hat-trick in a friendly thriller with Brazil, capped with an outstanding curling shot into the top corner.

JUNE GOALS AND APPEARANCES

2nd – One goal vs. Ecuador in World Cup qualifier (4-0)

9th – Three goals vs. Brazil (4-3)

AUGUST

Goals for Barcelona – 6 Goals for Argentina – 1 Running total – 58

If anyone thought Messi's predatory instincts had been dulled by a couple of months off, they were very much mistaken.

He started the 2012-2013 season in the same red hot form as before, scoring two against Real Sociedad on the opening weekend, two at Osasuna in the second game and another two across the legs of the Super Cup contest with Real Madrid.

Against Sociedad, he wasted little time getting started afresh, scoring on 11 and 16 minutes, but against Osasuna, he was required to score twice late on to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

Barca brothers: Messi celebrates with Alexis Sanchez after scoring against Real Madrid in the Super Cup, first leg at the Nou Camp

Barca brothers: Messi celebrates with Alexis Sanchez after scoring against Real Madrid in the Super Cup, first leg at the Nou Camp

RECORD! Messi's goal in a losing cause in the Super Cup second leg with Real made him Barcelona's all-time top scorer in Clasico matches. In the overall contest, he is behind only Alfredo Di Stefano.

AUGUST GOALS AND APPEARANCES

15th – One goal vs. Germany (3-1)

19th – Two goals vs. Real Sociedad (5-1)

23rd – One goal vs. Real Madrid in the Super Cup (3-2)

26th – Two goals vs. Osasuna (2-1)

29th – One goal vs. Real Madrid in the Super Cup (1-2)

SEPTEMBER

Goals for Barcelona – 4 Goals for Argentina – 1 Running total – 63

/12/04/article-2242647-1622780F000005DC-428_634x499.jpg” width=”634″ height=”499″ alt=”From Russia with Love: Messi scored twice against Spartak Moscow on matchday one of the Champions league group stage” class=”blkBorder” />

From Russia with Love: Messi scored twice against Spartak Moscow on matchday one of the Champions league group stage

SEPTEMBER GOALS AND APPEARANCES

2nd – vs. Valencia (1-0)

8th – One goal vs. Paraguay in World Cup qualifier (3-1)

12th – vs. Peru in World Cup qualifier (1-1)

15th – Two goals vs. Getafe (4-1)

19th – Two goals vs. Spartak Moscow in the Champions League (3-2)

22nd – vs. Granada (2-0)

29th – vs. Seville (3-2)

OCTOBER

Goals for Barcelona – 7 Goals for Argentina – 3 Running total – 73

October was a barnstorming month for Messi, who scored seven goals for his club and three for his country, and was the crucial difference in some thrilling games.

On the 7th, the sixth Clasico of the year, ended in a personal duel between Messi and his nemesis Cristiano Ronaldo. Honours finished even, with both superstars scoring twice in a 2-2 draw.

Nemesis: Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have been engaged in a personal duel to be the best player in the world all year

Nemesis: Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have been engaged in a personal duel to be the best player in the world all year

Biggest stage: Messi scored twice in the sixth El Clasico of the year, as Barcelona and Real drew 2-2 in La Liga at the Nou Camp

Biggest stage: Messi scored twice in the sixth El Clasico of the year, as Barcelona and Real drew 2-2 in La Liga at the Nou Camp

Then, after his three strikes against Uruguay and Chile helped Argentina a little further along the path to Brazil 2014, he shrugged off the jetlag to bag a hat-trick in a 5-4 rollercoaster with Deportivo.

Barcelona were 3-0 and cruising at the Riazor, but Deportivo fought back to within one goal. Messi then took control, his goals negating the dismissal of Javier Mascherano and ultimately proving the difference.

OCTOBER GOALS AND APPEARANCES

2nd – vs. Benfica in the Champions League group stage (2-0)

7th – Two goals vs. Real Madrid (2-2)

13th – Two goals vs. Uruguay in World Cup qualifier (3-0)

17th – One goal vs. Chile in World Cup qualifier (2-1)

20th – Three goals vs. Deportivo La Coruna (5-4)

23rd – vs. Celtic in the Champions League group stage (2-1)

27th – Two goals vs. Rayo Vallecano (5-0)

NOVEMBER

Goals for Barcelona – 9 Running total – 82

BABY! The month started with another moment of joy for Messi, presumably far greater than any of his goals, as his girlfriend gave birth to baby Thiago on November 2.

And Leo clearly wasn't suffering from too much lost sleep as he continued to bang in the goals at a rate of knots.

RECORD! On the 11th, his double against Real Mallorca took him past Pele's long-standing benchmark of 75 goals in a calendar year set in 1958.

The goals came two-by-two for the rest of the month as he closed in on Muller's world record of 85 goals within 12 months.

NOVEMBER GOALS AND APPEARANCES

3rd – vs. Celta Vigo (3-1)

7th – One goal vs. Celtic in the Champions League (1-2)

11th – Two goals vs. Real Mallorca (4-2)

14th – vs. Saudi Arabia (0-0)

17th – Two goals vs. Real Zaragoza (3-1)

20th – Two goals vs. Spartak Moscow in the Champions League (3-0)

25th – Two goals vs. Levante (4-0)

DECEMBER

Goals for Barcelona – 4 Running total – 86

So, with 82 goals in the calendar year and Muller's record tantalisingly close, Messi made the perfect start to December with another double in the 5-1 home win over Bilbao on Saturday.

RECORD! His two goals also drew Messi level with Cesar Rodriguez as Barcelona's all-time leading league goalscorer.

Closer and closer: Messi moved to within one of Gerd Muller's record with two goals in the 5-1 win over Athletic Bilbao at the weekend

Closer and closer: Messi moved to within one of Gerd Muller's record with two goals in the 5-1 win over Athletic Bilbao at the weekend

STAT ATTACK! Messi has 21 La Liga goals already this season, which would have been enough to give him the Golden Boot in 2001/2002 (Tristan, 21), 1990/1991 (Butragueno, 19) and 1984/1985 (Hugo Sanchez, 19). It also means he has personally outscored 16 of the 19 La Liga teams this season.

RECORDS! His goals against Real Betis on December 9 meant Messi surpassed Gerd Muller's record for goals in a calendar year and he also became Barcelona's leading all-time goalscorer in La Liga, moving ahead of Cesar Rodriguez.

DECEMBER GOALS AND APPEARANCES

1st – Two goals vs. Athletic Bilbao (5-1)

9th – Two goals vs. Real Betis

THE MAN MESSI HAS BEATEN

Gerd Muller scored 85 goals in 60 matches for Bayern Munich and West Germany in 1972 – a record for the highest number of goals scored in a calendar year that has stood for 40 years.

This is how Muller's record breaks down:

BAYERN MUNICH

Bundesliga: 42 in 34 games

European Cup: 10 in 4

Cup Winners Cup: 1 in 2

DfB Pokal: 7 in 6

DfB Ligapokal: 12 in 5

GERMANY

Euro 72: 5 in 4

Friendlies: 8 in 3

Best scoring run: 16 in 8

Longest drought: 3 games


Swarmed: West Germany's Gerd Muller trying to find a way through the Holland defence during the 1974 World Cup final

Swarmed: West Germany's Gerd Muller trying to find a way through the Holland defence during the 1974 World Cup final

Lionel Messi: Barcelona wouldn"t be normal without me

Messi hits back in defence of his Barca team-mates as he insists they'd be brilliant without him

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UPDATED:

23:52 GMT, 3 December 2012

Lionel Messi says he is not a 'tinpot dictator' and believes it is nonsense to suggest the Barcelona team rely on him.

In a rare interview with Dutch magazine ELF Voetball, Messi speaks out about claims the team revolves around him.

The prolific scorer, who is only one goal shy of Gerd Muller’s record for goals in a year.

Mr Popular: Lionel Messi insists Barcelona are strong because they are a unit

Mr Popular: Lionel Messi insists Barcelona are strong because they are a unit

He said: 'I am not a tinpot dictator. I don’t care what people say; my team-mates know that I am not like that; they know full well what I am really like.'

His comments come a week after Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said that the current Barcelona team, largely praised as one of the greatest club teams in history, would just be a 'normal' side without their Argentinian magician.

Messi added: 'Here at Barcelona, I have really learned to play in a team. In the Barcelona second team I learned a lot.

'At Barcelona they work quite differently to the rest of the world. I came from Argentina, where I did whatever I liked; mostly it was running and little more. Here I really learned to play in a team.'

Goals galore: Messi is one goal short of Gerd Muller's record for a calendar year

Goals galore: Messi is one goal short of Gerd Muller's record for a calendar year

Goals galore: Messi is one goal short of Gerd Muller's record for a calendar year

He claims he never listens to the praise that comes his way.

Messi added: 'I am grateful for these things, and I appreciate them, but I am my own hardest critic.

'I know when I haven’t performed well or when I’ve made a mistake. Deep down I don’t need anybody to tell me anything, but I learn from everything that is said, and it all goes to help me try to improve.'

Asked what went wrong last season, he added ominously: 'I don’t know what went wrong last season, but it will serve to make certain it doesn’t happen again, and that we will always hunger for more.'

Zlatan Ibrahimovic overhead kick: An apology by Dominic King

An apology for Zlatan: Dominic King didn't get the hype surrounding the Swedish maverick. He does now…

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UPDATED:

10:35 GMT, 15 November 2012

The observation was made during England’s Euro 2012 showdown with Sweden in the now common form of 140 characters.

With the cameras being drawn frequently to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, I asked on Twitter why was there such fuss about the hulking forward. Throughout his career, I’d never fully understood why he had been central to such headlines and copy.

More fuss was being made of Ibrahimovic than of Andres Iniesta, Barcelona’s midfield magician, who has won all there is to win in the game many times over, scored a winning goal in a World Cup final and spent his career at the one of the great clubs.

Believe the hype: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (centre) has legions of fans... and now his critics know why

Believe the hype: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (centre) has legions of fans… and now his critics know why

What Dominic King said about Zlatan…

Sportsmail's North West football reporter made the following observations about Ibrahimovic on Twitter during England's win over Sweden at Euro 2012 on June 15:

'This is probably another “speak too soon” moment but can anyone else see why Ibrahimovic has moved clubs for so much money in his career

'Remember seeing him at Anfield when he was at Juve. For 60 mins he looked bored, then popped up with a shot that nearly shattered the post.

'He's got talent – I'm not disputing – but, in my opinion, he's had more of fuss made of him than someone like Iniesta, who deserves more.

'I will qualify that by saying Iniesta has helped make Barca & Spain tick yet you rarely hear anything about him. As I said, just my opinion.'

This is not to say I didn’t think Ibrahimovic was a good player. Not at all. The first time I saw him play in the flesh was for Juventus in a Champions League quarter-final at Anfield in 2005, he nearly broke the Kop End goal frame in half with a thunderous, instinctive strike.

There was, however, something I didn’t quite ‘get’ about him and when he moved to Barcelona in 2009, I expressed the view to a Barclays Premier League manager. He agreed. We both felt Barcelona had erred, trading Samuel Eto’o for him.

So, watching him sulk and snarl in Kiev as England, I took to Twitter and observed that his career had been hyped up more than it deserved. Had I suggested Kate Middleton would lose a beauty competition to Grotbags, the reaction would have been more favourable.

Zlatan, clearly, has a lot of fans out there.

Of
course it is hard to argue when facts are presented such as him winning
league titles at every club he has played for, being the only man to
score in the Champions League for six different clubs and the transfer
fees he had commanded.

Until last night, however, I remained sceptical. Not any longer.

Ibrahimovic at Juventus

Ibrahimovic at Barcelona

As good as he thinks he is Ibra had his doubters while at Juventus (left) and Barcelona (right)

Yes, it really did go in: Zlatan's propeller-kick from over 25 yards stunned the football world

Yes, it really did go in: But Zlatan's propeller-kick from 25 yards stunned the football world and won new fans

Never mind the fact that England and Sweden played a friendly last night on a bobbly pitch and that two relatively inexperienced defenders were asked to chaperone him. Ibrahimovic was breathtaking; powerful, dominant and aggressive.

His gravity defying bicycle kick in injury time was scarcely believable and defined his performance but just as good was the nonchalant way he dispatched the first of his four goals. That was the hallmark of a striker playing at the top of his game.

So, Zlatan, it would appear I owe you an apology. The hype was right.

Wilfried Zaha – what can England expect?

You've heard all about Zaha, but what can we expect from the Palace wonderkid

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UPDATED:

08:36 GMT, 14 November 2012

Wilfried Zaha has earned a shock call-up to the England squad for tonight's friendly in Sweden but can the Crystal Palace winger really live up the hype

So is this kid the real deal

It certainly looks that way. He's got everything in the locker to become an England regular for the next 10 years.

He's been scaring Championship full-backs half to death with his direct running this season and has got more tricks than a magician can shake his wand at. Pace, power and technique is a deadly combination.

Three Lions: Wilfried Zaha (centre) trains ahead of England's friendly

Three Lions: Wilfried Zaha (centre) trains ahead of England's friendly

Didn't we hear quite a lot about Zaha last season

You did during the opening weeks of the campaign. His performances under Dougie Freedman had Premier League scouts flocking to Selhurst Park. But his form waned during the closing months of the season, coinciding with Palace's alarming dip.

So does he have problems with consistency

That was certainly a criticism that could have been levelled at him last season, but definitely not this campaign. His performances for Palace this term have, so far, been breathtaking. Question is: can he maintain it until May

Making his name: Zaha has been in scintillating form for Crystal Palace

Making his name: Zaha has been in scintillating form for Crystal Palace

Sounds like a bit of a show pony

Maybe last year, but there is an end product with Zaha now. He will always be able to speed past defenders with his blistering pace, but he has added substance to his talent over the opening four months of the season. Getting on the scoresheet is still be a problem, scoring just four times this season. But his delivery from wide has improved markedly, as his ability to pick out an early pass.

Would playing him centrally help his shortage of goals

Possibly, and maybe one day he will become a centre-forward. But at the moment he is best suited to his current position down the Palace flanks. He has the ability to cut in from either left or right wing to make penetrative runs into the heart of the opposition back-four. And once in the box, he's a defender's worst nightmare. Penalty!

Fans' favourite: Zaha has endeared himself the Selhurst Park crowd

Fans' favourite: Zaha has endeared himself the Selhurst Park crowd

So is he worth 20million

Honestly…no He is 20-years-old, with what amounts to one good season under his belt. But if he continues to develop the way he has this season then he will become a superstar.

Why aren't the big club's lining up to take him then

They are! Arsenal WILL make a starting offer of 9million to Palace once the transfer window reopens in January.

That will not be enough to persuade the Eagles to part with their prized-asset, but a bid of around 15million will give chairman Steve Parish a real decision to make. Liverpool and Manchester United have also made regular checks on Zaha's progress.