Lionel Messi: Barcelona and Argentina star’s iconic moments

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May 31, 2020
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    Lionel Messi

    Lionel Messi has had so many iconic moments in his career – with 627 goals and 34 trophies for Barcelona as well as six Ballons d’Or.

    There will be a Messi Day on Saturday across BBC Sport, which will include the chance to watch some of the 32-year-old’s best World Cup goals, a quiz and a column from Match of the Day host and former Barcelona striker Gary Lineker.

    We have picked what we think are his 10 most iconic moments for Barcelona and Argentina here. You can rank the 10 at the bottom and let us know using #bbcfootball on social media if you disagree with our list.

    Messi’s first hat-trick

    Lionel Messi celebrates goal against Real Madrid in 2007

    Barcelona 3-3 Real Madrid, 10 March 2007

    Messi’s first career hat-trick came in one of the biggest fixtures in football. The teenager scored all of Barca’s three goals in a 2007 Clasico – his first at the Nou Camp – including a brilliant last-minute finish after beating a couple of defenders.

    This was arguably the moment he became a household name.

    Messi’s greatest goal?

    Lionel Messi scores against Getafe

    Barcelona 5-2 Getafe, 18 April 2007

    Messi’s goal in the Copa del Rey semi-final first leg 13 years ago remains arguably his greatest strike.

    In a goal with remarkable similarities to Diego Maradona’s (non-handball) strike against England in the 1986 World Cup, Messi picked the ball up in his own half, beat about five defenders, went round the goalkeeper and then slotted home.

    Messi’s first Champions League final goal

    Lionel Messi scores against Manchester United in the 2009 Champions League final

    Barcelona 2-0 Manchester United, 27 May 2009

    If you can believe it, there was a time when people questioned whether Messi could do it against English clubs in Europe. He had failed to score in 10 Champions League appearances against English sides before the 2009 final.

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    But there were no doubts any more when Messi rose highest in the box to head home Xavi’s cross in his first Champions League final – and the first game billed as Messi v Cristiano Ronaldo.

    Two years later he would score in another final win over United – the third of his four Champions League winners’ medals.

    Messi hits four past Arsenal

    Lionel Messi scores his fourth goal against Arsenal

    Barcelona 4-1 Arsenal, 6 April 2010

    Messi scored four goals for the first time in his career as he took Arsenal to the cleaners in the 2010 Champions League quarter-final. The pick of the bunch was his chip over Manuel Almunia for his hat-trick.

    An honourable mention goes to his five-goal haul against Bayer Leverkusen in a 7-1 win in the last 16 two years later.

    He is the second top scorer in Champions League history with 114, behind Ronaldo.

    Messi breaks Barcelona scoring record

    Barcelona 5-3 Granada, 20 March 2012

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    Radio Catalunya commentary of Lionel Messi’s record-breaking goal. Commentator: Joaquim Maria Puyal

    Messi broke Barcelona’s goalscoring record at the age of 24 – the only way he knows how, with a hat-trick.

    He equalled Cesar Rodriguez’s record of 232 goals with his first against Granada, broke it with his second and extended the record with the third.

    Messi, now 32, is on 627 Barcelona goals and counting (when La Liga restarts) – almost 400 clear of anybody else.

    Messi scores 91 goals in a year

    Lionel Messi and Xavi

    Real Valladolid 1-3 Barcelona, 22 December 2012

    Even by the remarkable goalscoring exploits of Messi and Ronaldo, the Argentine’s record-breaking 2012 still seems implausible – 91 goals in the calendar year.

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    He netted 79 goals for Barcelona and 12 for Argentina – in a total of 69 games for club and country.

    It was enough to earn Messi an unprecedented fourth consecutive Ballon d’Or – even though he only won the Copa del Rey in 2012 for all those goals.

    Messi wins World Cup golden ball

    Lionel Messi with the World Cup golden ball

    Germany 1-0 Argentina, 13 July 2014

    In theory this should have been one of Messi’s greatest moments – being named the best player in a World Cup. His lack of a senior international trophy (he won the 2008 Olympics) is sometimes held against him in debates on the greatest player of all time.

    But it was a strange decision, with many observers thinking he had underwhelmed in the knockout rounds, having scored four goals in the group stages. He was disappointing too in the final defeat by Germany.

    Even then-Fifa president Sepp Blatter said he was “a little bit surprised” and Argentina legend Diego Maradona called the decision “unfair”.

    That final defeat in Brazil may be the closest he ever comes to winning the World Cup as they went out in the quarter-finals four years later in Russia, despite his memorable goal against Nigeria.

    Messi briefly retired from international football in 2016 after losing in the Copa America final for the third time, and again considered his future after the 2018 World Cup but he is still going.

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    World Cup 2018: Lionel Messi’s goal for Argentina against Nigeria, from every angle

    Messi breaks La Liga scoring record

    Lionel Messi is given bumps after breaking Barcelona's goalscoring record

    Barcelona 5-1 Sevilla, 22 November 2014

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    Another goalscoring record broken – and another hat-trick to do it.

    Messi equalled Telmo Zarra’s 251-goal record with a free-kick, before breaking it and stretching it with a third.

    Messi is now on 438 La Liga goals, almost 200 clear of the old record, and more than 100 above Ronaldo – who was on 311 before he left Real Madrid for Juventus.

    Messi’s 500th Barcelona goal comes in El Clasico

    Lionel Messi celebrates goal against Real Madrid in 2017

    Real Madrid 2-3 Barcelona – 23 April 2017

    Sometimes a goal almost seems too perfect – and this was one of those. Messi popped up with an injury-time goal against Real in 2017, sweeping home a first-time shot from the edge of the area. It was an El Clasico winner, his 500th Barcelona goal and it sent Barca top of the table (although Real would go on to win the league).

    For good measure, he pulled out an iconic celebration when he took off his shirt and held it out so the Bernabeu faithful could see his name.

    Messi wins sixth Ballon d’Or

    Lionel Messi

    Messi won his sixth Ballon d’Or – a record – in December, taking him above Ronaldo’s five after scoring 54 times for club and country in 2018-19.

    It was remarkably only his second since 2012 – with the other coming in 2015.

    “I still have beautiful years ahead of me,” he said while collecting the award.

    How many more iconic moments can he add before his retirement?

    Now it’s your turn. In which order would you rank these 10 moments?

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