Fresh off securing his record third Golden Glove of the 2018-19 season—won by shutting out the brightest lights of the Premier League, Champions League and the Copa America in dominant fashion—Liverpool and Brazil goalkeeper, Alisson Becker has added another title to his fast-growing legend: Lionel Messi’s Kryptonite.
The former Internacional man has now faced the greatest player of all time on three occasions—twice in two-legged Champions League knockout ties in both 2018 and 2019, and once most recently in the semifinal of South America’s marquee tournament—and has come up trumps each time.
No one has dared stand taller to the little Argentine than Alisson, with the Liverpool no. 1 facing down 25 blistering shots from that wand of a left foot over the five competitive matches between the two and only permitting two measly goals to slip past his gloves.
The last of those two strikes came at the end of Liverpool’s 3-0 humbling at the hands of Messi’s Barcelona in the first leg of the 2018-19 Champions League semifinal. Having put his side up two goals to the good with the front end of a brace in the 75th minute, the living legend sent the Camp Nou into rapture seven minutes later with a sumptuous free kick past the outstretched Alisson.
While that goal will ultimately go down in history as little more than the platform for a famous 4-0 Liverpool victory in the reverse leg, consequently sending the Blaugrana crashing humiliatingly out of the tournament and the Reds to their sixth European title, it also represented the last time an opponent would breach Alisson’s goal for the rest of the season with now only Sunday’s Copa America final remaining.
It is a run that has now stretched to nine games across three competitions, including into the summer’s Copa. Coming up against the Brazilian keeper once again with Argentina in the tournament’s semifinal, Messi lined up for another free kick, looking to try the same trick with his team 1-0 down and attempting to mount a comeback.
This time however, Alisson Becker had done his homework:
I've watched this several times now and still have no idea how he catches that.— Oli Kilroe (@OLILFC11) July 3, 2019
99% of other keepers tip it over for a corner, if they save it at all.
Alisson is so ridiculously casual, makes it look easy #Alisson #BRA pic.twitter.com/vrTn0Qjus3
Not only did Alisson save a inch-perfect Messi free kick destined for the top corner, but he caught it with two hands. Experts say that saves of this caliber are the footballing equivalent of that one time Michael Jordan took the soul of Ron Mercer by snatching his shot out of the air.
For a footballing genius who has been accustomed to seeing the ball ripple the net under his influence at a clip of once every 68 minutes this season, Messi’s 8% strike rate when facing Alisson is astounding.
Even so and despite having progressed through the youth setup at Internacional in his native Brazil, the Seleção no. 1 has not always been well-regarded in his homeland—probably due to being too good-looking or something like that. Furthermore, the 26-year-old has been accused of having an easy time of it this season behind a back four led by club teammate Virgil Van Dijk’s Ballon d’Or caliber campaign.
Now however, this dominant season has cemented Alisson’s claim as one of the best in the world and, on top of it all, Liverpool fans get to say that a Red is the one to have tamed the immortal Lionel Messi.