Can Messi do it on a cold night in Stoke? We all know he can do it at the Camp Nou, the Bernabeu, Olympiastadion Berlin (2015 Champions League final), Stade de France (2006 CL final), Rome (2009 CL final), and a whole host of other stadiums other players could only dream of. But he’s never done it at the Britannia. I mean, who really cares for seven La Liga titles, three Copa del Reys or four Champions League honours when you haven’t done it on a cold night in Stoke?
Can Messi do it on a cold night in Stoke? It’s a question many have asked, but few have answered, until now…
We answered that exact question, as part of an FM16 experiment we conducted, where we put Barcelona in League 2, and played out every season since (we don’t simulate games because that’s for lazy people or for those times I’m watching Sons of Anarchy).
Allow me to briefly set the scene for how this match came about…
I’m into my fifth season in charge of Barcelona in English football, winning every single division from League 2 – Premier League in the first time of asking. This season, however, I wanted it all. A measly league title wasn’t enough, I wanted the quadruple and knew we could do it, but the Stoke side I came up against were no easy side. They were sixth and their key players included Manuel Lanzini (worth £25.5m), Franco Di Santo (at least 15 league goals in last four seasons) and Sam Byram (avg rating of 7.34 this season).
Bear in mind Lionel Messi is 32 at this point and therefore slightly less agile and electric than his earlier days, but heading into half-time, the boys most certainly got the memo. Messi had an absolute stormer, scoring a brace before the half as we entered half-time 4-0 up.
The second-half played out as expected, as we protected out 4-0 lead well, allowing me to give some of my reserves a chance to shine. This is how the match ended.
Messi finished with an average rating of 9.2 and the rest was history. Messi most certainly can do it on a cold Tuesday night in Stoke. Case closed.
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