Who could have thought that Lionel Messi would become a victim of his own unrivaled talent? After setting the bar so high over the last four years and making his fans and football lovers accustomed to his unmatched technique, his recent dip in form is testament that he is human after all.
The Argentine has been rarely accused of failing to deliver in big games after scoring in two Uefa Champions League finals. However, after subdued performances against AC Milan (in the first leg of the Uefa Champions League last 16 stage) and Real Madrid (in the Copa del Rey semi-finals), questions are being asked of the little football genius.
The four-time World Player of the Year and leading scorer in one of the greatest clubs of all time was a shadow of his usual self at the San Siro when Barcelona slumped to a 2-0 defeat. The same happened again at the Nou Camp last week, when Cristiano Ronaldo, the player with whom he is always compared, scored twice in a 3-1 second-leg victory to guide 'Los Blancos' into the King's Cup final, with a well deserved 4-2 aggregates win.
Ronaldo has shaken off accusations that he went missing when the going got tough, and in scoring against Barca, he passed Messi's record to become the first player to score in six straight 'Clasicos' away from home.
Messi, who plays almost every game, now resembles the forlorn figure he was with the Argentina national football team a couple of years ago when he was constantly criticised for failing to perform on the international stage.
And as much as he was quick to shrug off suggestions that fatigue may be creeping in after an extraordinary 2012 were he broke Gerd 'Torpedo' MÃÂ¼ller's record of 85 goals in a calendar year and also eclipsed Cristiano Ronaldo's previous goal scoring record in the Spanish La-Liga of 41 goals by netting 50 last season, it's not far from the actual truth.
That said, I still believe that Messi is simply a victim of his super talent. If not, how do you then explain the fact that he is still La-Liga's top scorer with 38 goals?
The other reason why Messi's dip is so evident is because Barca are struggling to beat their opponents majorly because the team relies so much on the 24-year-old.
Usually, when a team's star player is struggling for form fellow teammates chip in. Unfortunately, that has not been the case at the Camp Nou. Alexis Sanchez, David Villa and Pedro have equally struggled for goals meaning that when opposition defences have tight-marked Messi, Barca have been rendered harmless.
That said, Messi is simply one of the greatest players to have played the game. Besides breaking records, he makes the next record seem more reachable.
Sometimes, his consistency can serve to make it seem mundane, but it is exactly that consistency that makes it so extraordinary. The stats reinforce that fact, but the subjective is as important as the objective. You watch him score an amazing goal and it seems normal; the next week, there is another one just as good. That's what the crowd has come to expect of him and unfortunately for him and fortunately for Cristiano, who up until now is the next best thing to Messi, it has become the yardstick for rating the Argentine.
With his legendary status at Barcelona already established, all Messi needs is a strong showing at next year's Fifa World Cup in Brazil to join the elite class of Pele and Diego Maradona.