Like Zlatan against England: Messi can leave Man City in awe

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There are a lot of things that are classed as distinctly British. Rallying around each other in a crisis, queuing in a nice, neat line for a taxi and condemning some of the greatest modern day footballers as incapable of playing to their potential on these shores are just a few.

The question “can he do it on a cold, wet Tuesday night in Stoke?” was often asked of Zlatan Ibrahimovic before he scored four goals against England at Wembley. That display put the theory to bed for good. Ok, it wasn’t in Stoke, but he’s never going to player there, is he? Be honest.

The same insulting rhetoric is levelled at Lionel Messi and, while stats of one goal and two assists in nine outings certainly justify raised eyebrows, the diminutive Argentine is about to blow the premise out of the water, Zlatan style.

Doing so will be of great benefit to Ladbrokes customers, who can bet on which player will be given the highest rating in a match by the statistical gurus over at whoscored.com.

Messi is the favourite to claim the award at the Etihad, but at a price of 7/2 is fantastic value considering the man-on-a-mission style of play he’s currently adopting.

Obviously patching up his one perceived chink in the armour is a clear motivation for the number 10, but there are other factors too.

Recently disposed as the world’s best footballer by arch nemesis Cristiano Ronaldo, Messi has been keen to show everyone just how good he is since coming back from injury in January.

In the 11 games he’s featured in since returning he’s scored 10 times, laid on seven assists and been awarded man-of-the-match honours, according to whoscored, seven times.

That run of dominance includes scoring and being named player-of-the-game in three straight outings and he comes to Manchester having scored a perfect 10 on the stats website in the 6-0 win over Rayo Vallecano. Good luck City.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.