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Measuring Soccer ‘Genius’ Lionel Messi Against The All-Time Best, And Worst

Argentine-born Lionel Messi has just been named FIFA’s player of the year for the third year running, further proof that the 24-year-old Barcelona striker is already a living legend. But who was the soccer world’s worst player in 2011?

In Buenos Aires, Argentina (above) Lionel Messi enjoys larger than life hero status
In Buenos Aires, Argentina (above) Lionel Messi enjoys larger than life hero status
Fred Hirzel

GENEVA -- It's next to impossible to think of something original to write about Lionel Messi, who at just 24 years of age has just been awarded FIFA's Ballon d'Or – and thus recognized as the world's greatest soccer player – for the third consecutive year. Only France's Michel Platini, who won the award in 1983, 84 and 85, ever accomplished such a feat.

I could write that the Argentine star is a tiny genius, that he has the trickiest and most inventive left foot since Diego Maradona, his legendary compatriot. But everyone knows that already. Or I could say that he's a freak of nature. Indeed, he suffered from a kind of dwarfism as a child. But that's hardly a scoop either.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Hide-And-Seek Of Drone Warfare, A Letter From Ukraine's Front Line

A member of the Ukrainian Armed Forces writes his account of the new dynamic of targeting, and being targeted by, the invading Russian troops, as drones circle above and trenches get left behind.

A Ukrainian military drone operator during a testing of anti-drone rifle in Kyiv.

Igor Lutsenko*

KYIV — The current war in Ukraine is a game of hide-and-seek. Both sides are very well-stocked with artillery, enough to destroy the enemy along many kilometers. Swarms of drones fly through the air day and night, keeping a close eye on the earth's surface below. If they notice something interesting, it immediately becomes a target. Depending on the priority, they put it in line for destruction by artillery.

Therefore, the only effective way to survive is to hide, or at least somehow prove to the drones your non-priority status — and avoid moving to the front of the 'queue of death.'

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In general, the nature of this queue is a particular thing. It may seem to be a god, but is instead a simple artillery captain's decision of when to have lunch, and when to fire on the house where several enemy soldiers are staying. It's just a handful of ordinary people (observers, artillerymen) deciding how long their enemies will live depending on their own schedule or the weather, the availability of ammunition or if they're feeling tired.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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