It doesn’t quite feel real; it’s more of a nightmare for Barcelona fans, one they are so desperate to wake from. Lionel Messi is Barcelona. They won’t admit it, but he is. He is the shining light, the beacon of hope and magic, the very thing that connects the club to every person who thinks about the sport of football for one second. Without him, they are just modern-day Barcelona; a circus and a team so full of failure. Without Lionel Messi’s greatest goals, what are they?
The shirt sales will plummet, as will the ticket sales because, let’s face it, people rarely turned up to watch the likes of Antoine Griezmann, as harsh as it may sound. Visiting the Nou Camp to witness a footballing God became part of the bucket list. And that’s why it feels so wrong that Messi’s last season in Spain came in front of an empty stadium.
So many have witnessed moments that will go down in history from the little magician, many of which are listed below as he put on show after show, almost shouting ‘and for my next act’, before producing the impossible.
Lionel Messi’s Greatest Barcelona Goals
5: Messi Silences the Bernabeu
El Clasico, one of the grandest stages in the entirety of football. Barcelona vs Real Madrid. Historically the very best vs the very best. The chance to immortalise yourself in La Liga history. It is where the elite players step up to produce moments to remember. And in April of 2017, Lionel Messi did just that at the Bernabeu.
The scores were level at two apiece. Casemiro had handed Madrid the lead before Messi equalised before halftime. Ivan Rakitic believed he had the winner in the 73rd minute before James Rodriguez thought he’d stolen the show in the 85th. But this was neither of their nights; neither of their game to decide. It was Messi’s show; Messi’s script and Messi’s moment.
With the very last kick of the game, the Argentine connected with Jordan Alba’a cutback to curl deep into the bottom left of Keylor Navas’ goal. The shirt came off, presented in front of the silent Bernabeu faithful. Barcelona had won the El Clasico with not a second to spare, thanks to one of Messi’s greatest goals.
4: Boateng Floored; Bayern Beaten
Watching this goal back, you almost turn away in shame; as if you shouldn’t be watching, just in case Jerome Boateng walks in. It almost defies description. To put the ball through a defender’s legs is delightful enough, but to put them on their backside at the same time? Just downright ludicrous. And then to top it off by dinking the ball over one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time. Just incredible.
The year was 2015, Barcelona’s best year in recent times, as they squared off against Bayern Munich in the Champions League semi-final. And this was back when comebacks were a rare occurrence against the Catalan club; this was Luis Enrique’s Barcelona. This was a side with arguably the greatest trio of all time in MSN- Messi, Suarez, Neymar. Bayern never stood a chance.
By the end of the game, Barcelona had scored three, Messi had a brace, whilst Neymar had one. Come the second leg, despite losing 3-2 on the night, the Spaniards progressed 5-3 on aggregate. It was a goal in the first leg which really stood out, however.
The clock ticked over to the 80th minute, Messi had already scored one just three minutes earlier, but he wasn’t done there. Taking the ball on the inside, the Argentine cut back onto his right, nutmegging Boateng in the process, who could only fall to the ground as Messi danced past him. With Manuel Neuer left to beat, Messi delightfully dinked the ball into the back of the net in astonishing fashion. It was quite easily one of Messi’s greatest Barcelona goals.
The win over two legs helped Barcelona to the Champions League final, where they defeated Juvetus 3-1 to lift the trophy.
3. Individual Brilliance in Copa del Rey Final
Just weeks after flooring Jerome Boateng, Messi’s goal in the Copa del Rey final once again defied the odds in the most Lionel Messi way possible. Winning 3-1 on the night to secure the trophy, which was eventually joined by the Champions League, La Liga, Club World Cup and Super Cup, Messi put on a show once more.
The scores were level with 20 minutes on the clock; Messi was fed up of waiting. He took matters into his own hands. Picking the ball just inside the half, he quickly shrugged off three Athletic Bilbao players in the corner, even nutmegging one in the process before cutting inside and firing past Iago Herrerin at his near post. In total, he danced past five players from the halfway line to the box. It rarely gets better than that. The goal is undoubtedly one of Lionel Messi’s greatest for Barcelona.
2. El Clasico Magic in Champions League Last Four
Lionel Messi and the El Clasico have a long-standing relationship, with many special memories along the way. But it doesn’t get better than the 2-0 first leg win in the 2011 Champions League final. At the Bernabeu, under Pep Guardiola, alongside arguably the greatest Barcelona squad of all time, the little magician produced one of his greatest ever goals.
It was a goal fit for the occasion; a goal that made the likes of Sergio Ramos look nothing more than Sunday League defenders. As the game approached the 87th minute, having already put his side one goal to the good, Messi punished ten-man Madrid once more.
Using Sergio Busquets as somewhat of a wall, Messi played the one-two before driving at the Madrid defence. Past one, past two, three, four, into the back of the net. Past Raul Albiol, past Sergio Ramos, past Marcelo. He made it look so simple; he looked untouchable as he slalomed past the Madrid midfield before breaching the backline and slotting past Iker Casillas.
It was a goal for the ages and one which helped Barcelona to Wembley for the Champions League final. And, in that final, he did not disappoint as Manchester United were condemned to defeat on Europe’s grandest stage once more, with Messi’s low-driven thunderbolt a key part of the 3-1 victory.
1. An Early Indicator of What Was to Come
The year was 2007. Lionel Messi was just 19, he’d barely even had two years in the first team, but that didn’t stop him from taking centre-stage. It takes some doing to outshine Ronaldinho at the Nou Camp, no matter the age. Yet, there Lionel Messi was, doing exactly that as a teenager, scoring a goal against Getafe to foreshadow what was to come.
Picking the ball up in his own half, Messi slalomed in between two before driving with pace and all the control in the world towards the Getafe midfield and backline. He went past two, then three then four and, to top it off, as if the previous damage wasn’t enough, he danced round the approaching goalkeeper before slotting the ball into the back of the net.
At 19-years-old, he single-handedly took on the majority of the Getafe side, including the goalkeeper, before wheeling away in celebration. It will undoubtedly be remembered as the best out of Lionel Messi’s greatest goals in a Barcelona shirt.
The Nou Camp will miss those lightening feet and those moments of magic. But, perhaps the biggest compliment you can pay is that the La Liga defenders will not.
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