FC Barcelona endured a horrible Valentine's Day in Paris. They came to play the first leg of the Champions League round of 16. So often the dishers out of misery, they were routed 4 - 0 by a rampant Paris Saint-Germain.
The entire Barcelona team played as if they had been roused from bed in their Catalan homes in the late afternoon and rushed to the French capital on a cattle truck.
The Paris side were like a pack of hungry wolves let loose in a farmer's market. Ángel Di María in particular was unstoppable.
It was the gangly young midfielder Adrien Rabiot who really thumbed his nose at Barcelona's star man Lionel Messi. It was only one moment in an overall devastation for the Catalans, but it was also a nutmeg. Cringe!
Barcelona were 3 - 0 down at this stage, and Messi was sort of throwing himself at everything, willing his side back into the contest. A loose ball presented itself. The little Argentine leapt eagerly at it. Was this the moment? No, Rabiot got there first, turned his back on his onrushing opponent, and slipped the ball between his legs. Oooooh!
In football, the nutmeg is one of the more satisfying trick moves. So often it is an extra flourish at the end of a dribbling move, or a way to pass your way out of a tight corner, but at the same time has that sprinkling of gamesmanship. It's a way of showing everyone watching that you're better than the opponent through whose feet you've just passed the ball. A determined schoolchild could learn to do it in half an hour. But you really want to see it done by the masters of the game. And nobody elevated it to loftier heights than the great Brazilian striker Ronaldinho.
At the height of his powers, his dribbles were a blur of feints, false starts and pure witchcraft. With the ball at his feet, he could beat anyone. He could beat a whole set of world class players. And he frequently did.
Every footballer since must feel, for the briefest of passing moments, like the great Ronaldinho himself when upon seeing an opponent bearing down upon them, they simply slip the ball between his feet. How much more so when the embarrassed player is the otherwise imperious Messi?