Messi marks the difference. So does Cristiano Ronaldo, Balotelli, Gilardino, Michael Owen and Ronaldinho. They do so because they are the best. They do so because they belong to superclubs. And in the end it is the superclubs that come out on top. Out are Rubin Kazan, Wolfsburg, Unirea and Rangers. In are Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United, Chelsea, Inter Milan.
Today was about realizing why we pay so much to see these players display their talent. It was also about why Lionel Messi is the best in the world. No Dynamo Kiev or Rubin Kazan (even during their brief spells of glory) can opaque the greatness of the current slew of superclubs.
What does the future hold? For the foreseeable time... more of the same. Expect the usual suspects in the semifinals: a couple of EPL clubs, maybe Real or Barca, maybe one of the Milan clubs. To them, in their majority, it's also about being in good shape for the World Cup. Even if Ibrahimovic and Arshavin are left out, the majority of the superstars will be present in South Africa. They define the superclubs, and why not...they define the wonder teams that make up the cream of the crop of the World Cup.