I am watching the Barcelona vs. LA Galaxy on Fox Soccer Channel, and the announcer made a joke that the only person in the world that can shut down Messi is Maradona. It kind of reminds of the saying that Dean Smith (long time coach at the University of North Carolina) was the only person who could keep Michael Jordan under 20 points a game. Any way, Barca are playing with a largely reserve team, although Messi, Alves, Keits, and Yaya Toure are playing. Messi is playing the role at the top of a midfield diamond, something he did in the Champions League Final very well. I think this really shows how Messi is progressing as a player, with the ability to come back deep and get others involved, rather than playing as striker or winger. Last year, Basile tried to play Messi in that position for Argentina against Chile while Riquelme was suspended, but it did not work out. I’m still not sure he’s ready to play there at the World Cup level, but you have to think that over time, Messi’s vision and passing range will grow to the point that he can do that for Argentina. Messi is looked good wearing the captain’s armband, and was involved in the run up to the first goal. After the LA goalkeeper fumbled Pedrito’s shot, Messi had his effort cleared off the line, but the rebound fell kindly to Pedrito who finished coolly. Messi at his best through out, making his usual darting runs at the LA defense. He was freed up by Yaya in the 40th minute, but had his effort saved well by Saunders, the LA keeper. What a goal from Beckham by the way, silencing the boos at the Rose Bowl.I know its only preseason but I guess it is because we haven’t had any live matches for so long, but I just get so excited every time I see Messi play. If Messi is at his best and can link up with Veron, Aguero, Maxi, and co., there is no reason Argentina couldn’t win the World Cup, even with these recent struggles. I just hope we can get there. I can’t wait til Auguest 12th to see him with the National Team. Russia will be a strong test before the Brazil game. I got to see Zhirkov play for Chelsea in a friendly here in the US against AC Milan and he looked very dangerous playing in the left midfield, rather than at left back as Guus normally plays him. I think we all know how good Arshavin is, so Heinze will be given yet another chance to prove he is not NT worthy. No matter what happens, I bet we’ll still see him in Rosario next month.