After scoring Barcelona’s late winning goal against Atletico Madrid which means another week for the ‘blaugranas’ to remain on the first place La Liga, Lionel Messi picked up his sixth Ballon d’Or on Monday night in Paris.
No other player has won it as many times as the Argentinian.
A throwback to Pep Guardiola’s first season as Barcelona manager. The Catalans won their first treble of the Spanish League, Spanish Cup and Champions League.
Messi had two fantastic moments during the first month of that calendar year; firstly, he scored an away hat-trick against Atletico Madrid in the Spanish Cup quarter finals which culminated with the home fans applauding his performance. He also scored Barcelona’s 5.000th goal in La Liga history in an away win against Racing Santander.
Messi scored two goals and assisted one to Thierry Henry in Barcelona’s memorable 6-2 away win against rivals Real Madrid in a title-deciding game for Barca.
In the Champions League final against Manchester United, Messi scored Barcelona’s second goal with an impressive header that sealed the blaugranas’ historic treble.
In December of that year, Messi scored the winning goal of the Club World Cup final in extra time against Estudiantes. Dani Alves crossed from the right wing for Messi to throw himself to the ground and hit the ball with his chest.
It was the completion of Barcelona’s perfect year. Six titles out of six. No other team had done it before and no other team has done it after, and it’s now been 10 years.
Messi shared the podium of the Ballon d’Or with Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta. It has been the only time that three players from the same youth academy have been nominated for the prize.
2009-10 was Messi’s first whole season playing at the center of the attack as a false ‘9’ and helped Barcelona to win La Liga by scoring 34 goals in the competition. Those 34 goals were enough for him to win his first European Golden Shoe. The Argentiniean had memorable performances such as his Champions League round of 16 performance against Stuttgart and the four goals he scored against Arsenal in the second leg of the quarter finals.
Other amazing performances include his hat-trick against Valencia in La Liga where the first goal earned him a nomination for the Puskas award of goal of the year and his goal against Zaragoza. Despite losing against Inter Milan in the Champions League semi final and after a 4-0 World Cup knockout in the quarter finals against Germany, Messi went back to Guardiola’s side to win a third straight Spanish League and another Champions League.
2011 was yet another magical year for Guardiola’s Barcelona, winning La Liga and the Champions League another magical year by winning La Liga, the Champions League, both Spanish and European Super Cups as well as the Club World Cup. Messi played a vital role in both and left some memorable Champions League performances.
Messi was vital for Barca to beat Arsenal in the round of 16. He provided an assist to David Villa to break Arsenal’s defense at the Emirates Stadium and in the second leg he scored a wonder goal by receiving a passo from Iniesta, chipping the ball over Almunia and culminating with a volley finish.
In the semi finals against Real Madrid, Messi scored two goals at the Bernabeu in the first leg. The second goal was a run from midfield where he dribbled four defenders and culminated with a delicate right-foot (he is naturally left-footed) to beat Casillas. His goals meant a 2-0 Barcelona away win and a 1-1 at the Camp Nou sealed Barca’s pass to the Champions League final in Wembley.
In the final against Manchester United with the score tied at 1-1, Messi scored his first-ever goal in England after striking a shot from outside the box for Barcelona’s 2-1 advantage. Barca’s third goal of the night arrived after Messi’s penetration to the box after an impressive dribble that left Nani and Patrice Evra behind.
He also scored goals in the Spanish Super Cup and Club World Cup finals to seal his third Ballon d’Or.
A record breaking year. Messi scored 91 goals in 2012, breaking the 40-year-old record held by German forward, Gerd Muller who had scored 86 goals back in 1972.
This record still stands today and he also scored 50 goals in La Liga which is also an all-time high of goals scored by a single player in one edition of the Spanish league.
Messi won his second European Golden Shoe and helped Barcelona to win the Spanish Cup against Athletic Bilbao.
Barcelona’s second treble. This time under Luis Enrique and with Luis Suarez and Neymar in the attacking trio.
In 2015 Messi started showing a more creative version. He would constantly throw passes from the midfield far down the wing kind of in an American football ‘quarterback mode.’ That year he developed a lethal connection with Jordi Alba where Messi would chip pass to the left wing and Alba would try to assist to the center of the box.
Messi scored Barcelona’s game winning away goal against Atletico Madrid which sealed the first Spanish League for the ‘blaugranas’ under Luis Enrique. One week later he scored a memorable goal against Athletic Bilbao in the Spanish Cup final in a run from the middle of the pitch and dribbling four opponents. His goals against Bilbao was nominated for the Puskas award for goal of the year.
Messi’s performance in the first leg of the Champions League semi final against Bayern Munchen is one of his most memorable performances. He scored the opening goal in the 76th minute with a violent strike to beat Manuel Neuer. His second goal of that night though was one for the ages. He dribbled Jerome Boateng from one side to another and then chipped the ball against Neuer.
The final between Barcelona and Juventus was tied with Juve having the momentum after Alvaro Morata’s equalizer in the second half. Messi received the ball in the middle of the pitch at the 69th minute, got near the box, dribbled a defender and shot. Buffon stopped it but Suarez got the second ball and scored. The ball went from the middle of the pitch to Suarez having it right in front of goal with Buffon already beaten. All thanks to Messi.
Messi scored two free kicks against Sevilla in Barcelona’s 5-4 victory in the European Super Cup. He also scored one goal against River Plate in Barca’s 3-0 win in the Club World Cup final.
Along with his sixth Ballon d’Or Messi also won his sixth European Golden Shoe thanks to his 36 goals in La Liga. His 36 goals and 13 assists were key for Barcelona to win their second straight Spanish League title.
In 2019 we have arguably seen his most complete version; the agile dribbler, the lethal goal scorer, the creator of goal scoring opportunities and the visionary goal assistant all compressed in one player.
Messi also had amazing performances in the Champions League scoring two goals in the round of 16 against Olympique Lyon, two in the quarter finals against Manchester United and two in the semi finals against Liverpool including his amazing free kick before the knockout at Anfield after Barcelona’s 4-0 loss against Liverpool.
Messi has played 14 games in the current season and has scored 11 goals and contributed eight assists so far. With nine free kick goals in 2019 so far, he already accumulates 52 in his career total and has scored more free kick goals by himself than clubs like Manchester City, Juventus and Real Madrid over the last ten seasons.
We are probably witnessing the greatest footballer of all time and I am personally grateful for the privilege of watching him play every weekend. Congratulations Lionel.