Footage of Lionel Messi "scanning" during Argentina's 2-0 win over Poland on Wednesday has gone viral, showing just how special a player the Paris Saint-Germain star is.
Messi missed a first-half penalty which he won himself. Wojciech Szczesny guessed the right way and made a strong stop from what was a powerful strike.
But while he failed to score or assist, the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner still dropped a wondrous display that included stunning dribbles and outrageous defence-splitting passes.
And Twitter account @BeYourBest_pro decided to take an in-depth look at another feature of Messi's game. They spent the full 90 minutes counting and studying Messi's scanning.
What is scanning, we hear you ask? Essentially, it's when a player is checking their options when they don't have the ball so they are completely aware of their surroundings.
The very best do it and using their head and body movement, they are able to collect information in split-seconds before they even receive a pass.
Messi is the absolute master of it and going off TV images, scanned 680 times against Poland and had a staggering scan frequency of 0.38.
Total Scans: 680— Be Your Best (@BeYourBest_pro) December 1, 2022
This was the total amount of times Messi scanned vs Poland. We used the TV images for this, meaning that the actual number will be higher when accounting for camera cuts and Messi's position in frame. 2/9 pic.twitter.com/9c5iidX6HH
On average, Premier League forwards have a scan frequency of 0.28 - with Messi's 35.7% better than that.
He also completed 21 "critical scans" - this meaning at the very last moment before the ball is in his possession - and had the ball played to him 73 times.
Scan Frequency: 0.38— Be Your Best (@BeYourBest_pro) December 1, 2022
Messi's had a scan frequency of 0.38 last night. That means in the last 10 seconds before receiving the ball he made 0.38 scans per second. How does that compare to other players? 3/9 pic.twitter.com/jb9rngv5lO
A lot has been made about Messi walking about off the ball and coming alive when he receives it, but this footage shows that he still always thinking ahead and looking around.
This allows him to then play those killer chipped passes in behind for the full-back to latch onto.
Given he operates in tight spaces a lot of the time, it's pivotal that knows how much space he has to work in and his awareness could not be any better.
Critical Scans— Be Your Best (@BeYourBest_pro) December 1, 2022
The critical scan is the last scan a player makes as the ball is travelling towards them. In last night's game, Messi received the ball 73 times, making a critical scan on 21 occasions - 28% of the time. 6/9 pic.twitter.com/Q6TtdsG2j6
He'll often take his eye off where the ball is momentarily just to survey where the space is. And before he's even had the ball fed to him, he already knows exactly where his teammate will be because of the swift look he's head.
Manchester City and Belgium star Kevin De Bruyne also does this excellently but Messi is the reference point and all young footballers should take time in analysing him in great detail.
Scan Timing— Be Your Best (@BeYourBest_pro) December 1, 2022
In most situations, Messi demonstrated an almost flawless scan timing. Looking at the ball when touched, and scanning the space in between touches and when the ball is moving. 7/9 pic.twitter.com/05pO3GIbjQ
The above thread only further showcases why the genius 35-year-old is a once in a lifetime talent.
We will see him strut his stuff again on Saturday when Argentina take on Australia in the round of 16.
Featured Image Credit: Twitter/@BeYourBest_pro & BBC
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