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Porto vs Liverpool. Estadio do Dragao. 29th minute.
The visitors leading 1-0. James Milner uses all his experience to fight off the pressure on him and move into the Porto box. Along with a number of players in Blue and White, the Liverpool number 7 also finds a little bit of time and space.
He takes a tiny touch to his right and drives a shot towards the far side of Jose Sa’s goal, reminding me of a certain Brazilian who formerly wore the number 10 for the Reds for the past few years. The shot and the technique behind it was beautiful to see and I thought it went in. I bet I was not the only who thought so. But no. The ball bounced back off the post.
Unfortunately for the Sa, the Porto defenders and their fans the ball fell to the feet of Mohamed Salah. The player’s first touch with his right foot didn’t look like a good one as the ball bounced of his foot. It looked like he lost control of it. I thought that it was already a missed chance.
That touch gave Sa a tiny bit of hope enough for him to try and punch the ball away before the former Chelsea man pounces on to it. But no.
Salah’s left foot reaches the ball before the goalkeeper can get his hand to it. That was it.
The Liverpool number 11 has an open chance on goal. However, he decides to take another touch with his head just to give Alex Telles also a tiny bit of hope just like he did to Sa before striking with his left foot to double his side’s lead on the night.
I felt bad for Sa and Telles. Why did Salah do that? He could have just scored from his second touch, if not the first.
Why did he even want to do a keepy uppy in front of the Porto goal and humiliate them to the core? That tiny bit of hope that he gave to both those players during that few seconds was a trap.
Like Marion Crane said in ‘Psycho’, “Sometimes…we deliberately step into those traps”.
After scoring the goal that probably ended atleast two players will to play that night, Salah turns around slowly to his teammates as if he doesn’t know the chaos he has created before starting to celebrate. Villainous.
Since a long time I have heard people comparting Salah with Lionel Messi. Some call him the Egyptian Messi. For a long time I thought it was because of the similar skill set the two shared. However, that night at Porto put an end to my assumptions.
The Messi-Salah comparison we are talking about is the not same as the Messi-Ronaldo comparisons. We are talking about abilities and skills, and I am not sure if Pep Guardiola got it right when he was asked about the same last week.
Yes. Salah is quickness and dribbling can be likened to Messi. Salah has got the ‘moves’ like Messi. But what makes him more Messi-esque is something else.
There are also other players who have quick feet and dribbling skills, but why are they not compared to Messi?
Salah is not collated with Messi for the skills he have, but it for the brain that he has.
What makes Messi the GOAT is his brain. His calmness under all circumstances. His quick thinking. And Salah has a similar head. In simple words, he is a genius.
I didn’t figure this out until the Porto game.
The way the 25-year-old kept his calm even after his first touch in front of the goal was little bit shoddy, the way he used a bijou touch with his left leg to take out Sa and the way he took a touch with his head so that the ball would come down to right where he wants. He did all of those just to score the way he wants.
Above all that, the way Salah reacted to scoring that goal was even more impressive and more Messi-esque for him. He didn’t wheel off to the corner flag like someone who has bats in the belfry. No removal of shirt, no samba dance moves, no fancy celebrations at all.
A slow turn to face his teammates, a smile on his face and after sharing his happiness with them all he prostrates as a sign of gratitude to who he thinks is the reason for all his success.
All those remind me of Messi and I am sure it must have reminded almost everyone at somepoint. Salah ain’t compared to Messi for his 4 star skill rating of FIFA, but for his as cool as a cucumber attitude.
Written by Dakir Thanveer
Follow Dakir on Twitter @ZakWriter
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