Keeping a cool head
Footballing geniuses often come with a dark side, think Zidane, Maradona and even Christiano Ronaldo. But you very rarely see an explosion of temper from Messi. He seems unflappable. His cool, calm and collected approach is impressive considering how many defenders have put in strong challengers on him and that can be shown in his card count since he burst onto the scene in 2004-05 compared to his fellow genius. Ronaldo at that time.
MESSI............................................. 0 red cards, 14 Yellow cards
RONALDO..........................................5 red cards, 32 yellow cards
Watching his diet
Messi suffered from a string of knocks and short-term injuries in his early playing days at Barcelona so the club changed his diet to help combat the problem. Two years ago, they swapped his 'asado'- a salty roast beef which is an Argentinian delicacy- for more fish, fruits and vegetables, hoping that the anti-inflammatory qualities in the fruit and vege would reduce the effect of any knocks and the calcium in the fish would make his bones stronger.
Building Up Strength
Anyone who saw Messi's extraordinary second goal against Real Zaragoza last month will have been impressed by how much such a small man can be so strong. He outmuscled the Zaragoza midfielder to win the ball to prove once more that he is not afraid of the physical side of the game.
Messi has been involved in 157 tackles and challenges in this season Champions League- more than any other player. At the age of 11, Messi was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency. For two years he underwent daily injections but when his club in Argentina, Newell's Old Boys, could no longer afford the treatment, Barca stepped in with an offer to continue paying the bill if he was willing to move to Spain.
A Sense of Balance
The trick of dribbling past so many players, so often and at such speed, is Messi's balance. Apart from when when he chooses to fall over, Messi,who is just 5ft 7in, looks effortlessly stable, no doubt helped by the low centre of gravity which also benefited Maradona (5ft 5in), Pele (5ft 8in) and Gazza (5ft 10in).
It is no surprise then that he has made more dribbles (81) than any player in the Champions League- Porto's Hulk (79) is the only other player who comes within 25 of him.
Doing The Leg Work
Messi normally does about 50 minutes running and then an hour doing weights in the gym to keep his legs strong. As his frame is not the biggest, Barcelona wants Messi's legs to be as strong as possible so he can fight off defenders and show that electric pace over 10 yards. The other advantage of building up his legs is giving him the spring he needs to win the ball in the air- something that is very important considering his height.
If you want to proof it works, cast your mind back to his header in last season's Champions League final.
The Shooting Boots
One thing not many people realised, Messi wears white and gold Adidas Tunit F50 boots- he is the only player in the world to wear them in that colour. The toe has extra grip on it, which helps Messi with his close control, and is made with just one layer of material, meaning it is lighter than other boots. No wonder he is the Champions League's top goalscorer this season with eight.