If you look carefully at the way Marca reported Leo Messi’s record-breaking accomplishment on Sunday you will notice an odd detail, apparently at odds with the way this story was reported in the rest of the world. Even if you don’t read Spanish, it is clear that the editors of Marca have a unique view of the football world: in their alternate universe Lionel Messi has scored 85 goals in 2012, not 86.
Indeed, in every story about Messi that appeared since Sunday, Marca has stubbornly stuck with 85. Under other circumstances this would simply be annoying, but in this case one goal is literally the difference between Messi equalling or breaking the record in question. To add another element to the puzzle, Marca is also reporting that Messi broke Muller’s record on Sunday? And yet, Muller is universally acknowledged to have scored 85 goals in 1972.
Or did he?
I dug a little deeper into this apparent contradiction and discovered that Marca’s historical revisionism in this case has reached nearly comical proportions. First, despite the report of the referee at the Camp Nou last weekend, Marca has officially decreed that Messi’s first goal against Bilbao was an own-goal scored by Basque defender Fernando Amorebieta. This explains why Messi has 85 goals and not 86. In order to be able to report, along with the rest of the world, that Messi broke the record on Sunday, Marca had only one recourse: they would have to subtract a goal from Muller’s tally. And so, Marca’s editors dutifully dug into the archives and uncovered a goal attributed to Muller in June of 1972 in an international match against the USSR. Video evidence, presented in the paper last week, indicates “unequivocally” that this too was an own-goal scored by the Soviet keeper and not the German striker. So in the Marcaverse, Muller has scored 84 goals, Messi 85, and order is restored. Sort of.
In all likelihood, Messi will go on to score more goals in 2012, effectively making this a moot point. But it is fascinating to see the lengths to which Marca has gone to stick to their contrarian version of history.