Lionel Messi does not score many goals at International level for his country Argentina; surprisingly, has never scored in eight games when playing against teams managed by Jose Mourinho.
But the 23 year old is on course to break all previous records for the number of goals scored in a single season.
It was a huge surprise a week or so ago when Messi failed to find the net in the 5-1 thrashing of Shakhtar Donetsk in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League quarter final at the Nou Camp. However, it was Messi who scored the winner in the 1-0 win away in the second leg to confirm the Catalan club’s place in the last four of the Champions League.
Incredibly, that goal was Messi’s 48th of the season and ensured that he beat the existing record of goals in a season, which stood at 47, which was set by Brazil’s Ronaldo during the 1996-7 season.
The Argentine had equalled that record last season, but failed to surpass it. This season, however, he looks certain to add to that tally with a number of games in both La Liga and the Champions League remaining.
Messi’s 48 goals this season have come from just 46 games played; Ronaldo achieved his 47 goals in 49 appearances 14 years ago. Given the fact that Messi has the opportunity to play at least a further ten times this season, the chances are that given his current goals to games ratio, he is more likely to finish the season closer to 60 goals.
Even more remarkable is the simple fact that Messi has achieved this feat playing at the highest level in World Soccer, against the best teams in Spain and Europe. The previous club record in the modern era is 54 goals from just 49 games by Brazilian, Mario Jardel, in 1999-2000, but those were scored in the Portuguese league at a much lower standard.
Celtic’s Henrik Larsson was also a prolific scorer, netting 53 times from 50 appearances for Celtic in 2002-2003. However, scoring 50 goals in the Scottish League is far removed from netting them in La Liga and the Champions League.
Messi should have no problem breaking the all time goals in a single season record, but it will be interesting to see how he fairs in the four matches Barcelona must play against Real Madrid in the coming weeks, given his goalscoring record against Jose Mourinho managed teams.
In eight games against the current manager of Barcelona’s major rivals, Real Madrid, Messi has yet to score.
The two teams meet four times over the next three weeks, the first of which will see the sides clash in a league match at Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday before locking horns again on Wednesday in the final of the Spanish Cup, the Copa del Rey. However, the showdown that ever Soccer fan is eagerly awaiting is that of the two leg match in the Semi Final of the Champions League, which take place on April 27 and May 3, with Barcelona playing at home in the second game.
The winner over the two games will progress to the final of Europe’s premier soccer trophy at London’s Wembley Stadium on Saturday, May 28.
It is difficult to see Messi’s goal drought against a Jose Mourinho continuing for a further four games but it is not just goals that Messi is about. Although not being amongst the scorers in Barca’s 5-0 win La Liga win over Real Madrid earlier this season, Messi was instrumental in most of the goals and certainly played provider to the brace scored by his strike partner, David Villa.
In fact, Messi has been credited with 23 assists this season already a statistic that strongly suggests that he does not have the often selfish mindset of an out and out striker; he is a team player first and foremost, an attribute which tells us why he is not only the best goalscorer in the world, but that he is also its very best player.