The magic of Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi in numbers
Lionel Messi now has 202 goals for Barcelona after this week hitting six goals in four days – three in Saturday’s 5-0 La Liga win over Mallorca and another hat-trick in Tuesday’s 4-0 win against Viktoria Plzen in the Champions League.
These 202 goals have been amassed in 286 appearances since his first as a 17 year old against Albacete in May 2005. 160 have come in the 176 games since Pep Guardiola took over as Barça coach in summer 2008.
Guardiola’s decision to move Messi from the wing into his now familiar 'false nine' central roving role at the beginning of the 2009/10 season speeded up the scoring rate – the Argentine has scored 122 goals in 123 games since.
The last 100 have come since January 2010. He has 48 goals in 48 games for Barça in 2011 and 22 goals as an ever present starter in Barca’s first 14 games of the current season - 13 in ten La Liga games, five in four Champions League ties, three in the Spanish Supercup and one in the European Supercup.
Messi’s double in last month’s 3-0 La Liga win over Racing Santander moved him ahead of Hungarian László Kubala’s to become Barca’s all-time second highest goalscorer, at only 24 years old.
After Tuesday’s game Guardiola said it was only a matter of time before Messi got the 33 more goals he needs to pass current all-time record holder César Rodríguez, who scored 235 between 1942 and 1955.
“Messi will overtake César,” Guardiola said. “I would not count out that happening this season. And that he is only 24 says everything.”
Barca club president Sandro Rosell told reporters in Prague’s Eden Stadium that Messi’s record defied description. “There are no adjectives to describe him,” Rosell said. “He is the best in the world. I do not know what his limits are.”
The player himself was characteristically modest about his achievement. “I am happy to have reached such an important number of goals,” Messi shrugged. “But I am here to help my team mates.”
While being surrounded by such great players as Xavi Hernández and Andrés Iniesta in such an outstanding team as the current Barcelona side must help, Messi is no flat-track bully.
He has regularly scored important goals against Barca’s biggest rivals. His favourite opponent (17 goals) has been Atlético Madrid, then Real Madrid and Sevilla (13 each).
Messi has been top scorer in the UEFA Champions League in each of the last three seasons, and scored in both Barca’s final wins over Manchester United in 2008/09 and 2010/11.
He is favourite to pick up an unprecedented third consecutive FIFA World Player of the Year award next January. And, with his 25th birthday not due until next June, Messi’s best days are likely yet to come, as his Barcelona team-mate Daniel Alves said after Tuesday’s game.
“It looks like this kid shows promise,” said the Brazilian, with a smile.
MESSI BY NUMBERS
Date of birth: June 24, 1987
Barcelona: 286 appearances, 202 goals
Argentina: 65 caps, 18 goals
Teams scored against: 50
How he scored his goals
Left foot - 156
Right foot - 36
Head - 8
Chest - 1
Hand - 1
Goals - Season by season
2004-2005 - 1
2005-06 - 8
2006-07 - 17
2007-08 - 16
2008-09 - 38
2009-10 - 47
2010-11 - 53
2011-12 - 22
132 La Liga goals, 7 Copa del Rey, 42 Champions League, 8 Spanish Supercopa, 2 World Club Cup, 1 European Super Cup.
112 goals scored at the Nou Camp, 84 away from home, six at neutral venues
85 goals in the first-half, 116 in the second-half, one in extra-time
14 hat-tricks, including four this season