The science behind Lionel Messi's extraordinary goal against Real Betis

Francesc Xavier Alvarez, a UAB professor, explained the SPORT the precision Messi needed

El gol no fue solo perfecto visualmente, también lo fue matemáticamente. Francesc Xavier Álvarez nos explica por qué | Laia Cervelló

“He scored the goal like that and it couldn’t have been scored in any other way,” said Francesc Xavier Alvarez, a professor of physics at Barcelona (UAB) university. SPORT asked him about Lionel Messi’s lob against Real Betis.

Javier Giraldo


Laia Cervelló

At the moment Messi kicked the ball, 18.6 metres separated him from the goal, with the professor looking at the position of Messi, the goalkeeper and the goal-line to study the trajectory and speed of the ball.

"The margin of speed and angle that the ball needs to travel for the goal is really small", Álvarez explains. “Between the 17.4 meters per second that would be the limit speed at which the goalkeeper could touch the ball and the 17.9 meters per second maximum speed, so the ball passes under the crossbar and is a goal.” That is, between 62.64 and 64.44 kilometers per hour.

But in the parabola that Leo Messi drew for the ball you also have to take into account the angle: in this sense, the Argentine player was also especially precise because a deviation of only 1.3 degrees would have seen Pau stop the ball. Messi needed between 25.5 and 26.8 degrees of inclination.

Messi struck at the ideal speed and with perfect inclination, with the precision of a surgeon. His room for manoeuver was very limited (only 0.5 meters per second and 1.3 degrees difference), but he knew how to place the ball in that impossible spot… to score an almost impossible goal.


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