25 Great Lionel Messi Goals
Lionel Messi has a penchant for making the extraordinary seem completely normal, to the extent where we now come to expect the unexpected.
The young Argentine, with frankly preposterous regularity, rarely disappoints. At just 25 years of age, he has torn up the coaching manuals and rewritten the script.
Just this past weekend we saw another peach from him which rightly deserves it's place in this list.
Already Barcelona's all-time top scorer in official games, he needs just 37 more goals to become their record holder for all games (inc friendlies) currently held by Paulinho Alcantara.
He is also well on course to break Telmo Zarra's all-time La Liga scoring record.
Here's my choice of 25 great goals he's scored for La Blaugrana and the Argentine national team since he burst into the first team picture during a friendly against Porto on 16 November, 2003 aged just 16 years and 145 days.
Albacete, La Liga 1 May 2005
Where else to start but Lionel Messi's first-ever goal as a first team player for Barcelona.
Albacete were the visitors to Camp Nou and Messi had already had an identical goal chalked off a minute beforehand.
Not to be deterred, he linked up once again with Ronaldinho and this time the goal stood.
The chip to set up the goal from the Brazilian is a thing of beauty in itself and Messi just puts the cherry on the top of the cake with a wonderfully well-taken finish for a then-17-year-old.
The birth of a legend.
Getafe, La Liga 10 April 2012
As Iniesta plays the first ball to Messi, there are eight Getafe players in relatively close attendance.
A driving run to the heart of the defence brings six of the defenders closer still, yet a cheeky back-heel from Iniesta takes them out of the game.
Although the ball is slightly underneath his feet, Messi still manages to get astonishing power behind the shot to direct it into the roof of the net.
Real Zaragoza, La Liga 26 September 2007
This goal has echoes of the Getafe goal from 2005.
Messi picks up the ball near the half way line, routinely beats his man as only Messi does and then outstrips all-comers on the chase to goal.
A slightly mis-placed pass is played back into his path by Thierry Henry and Messi's first time shot beyond the keeper is exquisite.
FC Copenhagen, Champions League 20 October 2010
Great build up play between Sergio Busquets, Gerard Pique and Andres Iniesta opened the way for a rifle like shot from Messi.
On the edge of the area and with no one closing him down, the outswinger had too much power and was in the net before the Copenhagen keeper had even dived!
Malaga, La Liga 2 May 2012
One shouldn't be fooled with the straightforward nature of this goal.
A simple ball down the middle from Andres Iniesta it may have been, but the weight and accuracy of the pass is what presents the chance to Messi.
From there on, the timing of the run, Messi's pace and his cool chip over Kameni for his hat trick make this a goal to savour.
Real Madrid, La Liga 10 March 2007
I was present at Camp Nou for this match, my first live Barcelona game.
The "Messi Clasico" will live long in the memory of anyone who was there to witness it and obviously has a special meaning for me.
Trailing 3-2 to their arch rivals Real Madrid in injury time, two-goal Messi received the ball from Ronaldinho and a delightful first touch took him away from his markers.
As Sergio Ramos tried desperately to stop him pulling the trigger, Messi wrote himself into the record books with his hat-trick goal to save the match for Barcelona, leaving Iker Casillas prone on the Camp Nou turf.
A true classic in every sense.
Uruguay, World Cup Qualifier 12 October 2012
It takes supreme confidence and self-belief to even contemplate trying a free kick such as this one.
If it fails, you end up looking a fool. If it works, you are hailed a genius.
A simple but very, very effective finish.
Sevilla, La Liga 29 November 2008
On a cold winter's night at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan in Seville, a stunning finish from Lionel Messi warmed the Cules in the crowd.
From the Seville goal kick, a straightforward defensive header from Barca fell kindly in between two defenders for Messi to run onto.
The bounce of the ball was deceiving and "La Pulga Atomica" had to head the ball to maintain it's forward momentum.
After allowing the ball to bounce once, and with three defenders all within a yard of him, Messi sent a ferocious half volley into the net with the keeper rooted to the spot.
Racing Santander, La Liga 1 February 2009
Coming on as a second-half substitute, Messi changed the game with two goals.
I'd never seen a ball controlled with the chest at over head height...until this match.
Not only that, but Messi is caught by the defender on the way down from his leap, regains his balance and still manages to unleash an unstoppable right foot half volley away from the keeper into the far corner of the net.
One of my personal favourites due to the high technical level of the finish.
Real Madrid, Supercopa De Espana 29 August 2012
Trailing 2-0 and with the half time whistle about to blow, Barcelona needed some inspiration against their fiercest rivals.
In the coliseum that is the Santiago Bernabeu, step forward the man himself, gladiator Messi.
25 yards from goal, Casillas well positioned and the wall preparing to do it's job, Messi's trusty left peg puts a wicked curl on the ball and it flies into the net.
Zaragoza, La Liga 21 March 2010
So many of Messi's goals have a certain similarity about them.
Even being manhandled near the halfway line can't stop him.
Power, pace, finish. Great skill to beat Jarosik and then poor Matteo Contini is beaten, all ending up on the way to another glorious finish.
Arsenal, Champions League 8 March 2011
A year after a four goal salvo from Messi against the same opponents, he was at it again with another hat-trick.
Barcelona were trailing 2-1 from the first leg of their Champions League match and we were in first half injury time as creator supreme Andres Iniesta threaded a pass through the eye of a needle to Messi.
Arsenal keeper Manuel Almunia was out at the feet of Messi as quick as a flash yet the Argentine still had time sprinkle stardust all over this goal as he controlled the ball with his first touch, dinked the ball over Almunia with his second and volleyed home with his third.
Villareal, La Liga 14 November 2010
The hallmark of Barca at the time, short, sharp passing which led to another Messi masterpiece.
A quick free kick from Xavi finds Messi centrally placed. As the defence closes ranks, a double one-two with Pedro sends the Argentine clear but with much still to do.
The sublime right foot chip over the advancing keeper is the perfect way to finish off a move of such beauty.
Tenerife, La Liga 10 January 2010
As nonchalant a goal as you will ever see.
Bojan Krkic plays a long one-two with Xavi and as the former slightly mis-controls the ball, he manages to play it into the path of a walking Messi.
With no hesitation a "postage stamp" is sent first time into the top corner.
The speed of thought to appreciate that the type of chance executed was even an available option is what marks this goal out as extra special.
Manchester United, Champions League Final 27 May 2009
In the grand scheme of things, this isn't a particularly "stand-out" type of goal.
However, put into context, this was essentially the header which won the Treble for Pep Guardiola's side.
On a sweltering night in Rome, the smallest man on the pitch rose the highest with 20 minutes left in this Final to put Barca 2-0 up in the match.
Manchester United criminally allowed Xavi far too much time and space and his pin-point cross picked out Messi with immaculate ease.
There was still much hard work to be done but by directing the ball back in the direction it came Messi left Edwin Van Der Sar flat-footed and unable to stop his team from going two goals behind.
Sevilla, La Liga 17 March 2012
Watch the movement from Messi at the start of the video.
He begins on the right side up near the half way line. A short pass to Xavi who finds Cesc Fabregas. Despite being prone on the floor, the ball is worked to Messi who is now central.
He sends to ball to Andres Iniesta and the afterburners kick in to take him beyond two Sevilla defenders and into space to pick up the return pass.
A cheeky nutmeg later and Messi is left side in the area, then...up she goes—a delicious chip over the advancing Palop to finish off a wonderful passage of play.
Valencia, La Liga 14 March 2010
Another trademark Messi finish.
The first goal of his hat trick against Valencia came in the 55th minute with the game poised at 0-0, and it was worth the wait.
Receiving the ball on the half turn from Xavi and with defenders either side of him, Messi turned away from Ever Banega as though he wasn't there. His next touch out-foxed Bruno and as the next covering player woefully mistimed his tackle, Messi simply skipped into the space.
A finish to the near post wrong-footed keeper Cesar and put Barca on the road to an important three points.
Atletico Madrid, La Liga 24 September 2011
No danger whatsoever for Atletico as Messi took a thrown in to Pedro down by the corner flag.
A quick one-two in between the defenders and Messi was off with only one thought in his mind.
Immediately past one, two more defenders swiftly closed him down on the edge of the area. No matter as one drop of the shoulder later, both Atletico players were out of the game and Messi was in on goal.
Feigning to shoot to the far post, goalkeeper Courtois bought it and left the near side wide open for Messi to tuck away Barca's third of the night.
Mexico, Copa America Semi Final 27 July 2007
This is another goal which demonstrates quite clearly the football brain of Lionel Messi.
How many other players do you know that would even try and chip a goalkeeper that is stood just off of his line and still inside his six yard box?!
Receiving the pass in space, he needs just one touch to set himself before looping the ball into the net. A stunning piece of individual brilliance.
Athletic Bilbao, La Liga 27 April 2013
I had already made my list for this feature and then I had to find a place for this stunner!
Within six minutes of his belated entry at San Mames, Messi came up with the goods yet again.
Ray Hudson's commentary has it in a nutshell: "Magisterial Lionel. Magnifico. Extraordinario".
Say no more.
Bayern Munich, Friendly 15 August 2007
A spectacular volley that has remained largely forgotten about.
It's a difficult skill at the best of times, but Messi made this one look simple.
What strikes me about the completeness of this finish is that not only does Leo have to be aware of the three Bayern players coming straight to him, but he also must keep his eye on the ball the entire time as it drops from a great height.
He hits the volley with such venom on his favoured left foot that it's already nestled in the net before Bayern's keeper has finished his full-length dive.
Brazil, Friendly 9 June 2012
What a way to beat your arch rivals!
Only six minutes were left to play in this friendly between South America's finest when Messi picked up the ball just inside the Brazil half.
In echoes of the goal he scored for Barca against Getafe, Messi's quick feet and acceleration take him away from his marker.
It's only as he arrives at the penalty area that the angle of his direct run is changed slightly before he unleashes an unstoppable rocket into the top corner.
Hat trick Messi!
Atletico Madrid, La Liga 26 February 2012
No one could've imagined a direct goal scoring opportunity would be fashioned when Xavi and Messi lined up a free kick out wide of the Atletico area.
Only ten minutes were left in the Vicente Calderon and Atletico were more than a match for their visitors.
The game was drifiting toward a draw when some quick thinking and pin point accuracy was all it took to give Barca the lead in the match.
As you watch the YouTube video of this goal, pay particular attention to the camera angle from behind Atletico keeper Courtois.
Don't forget that this is a keeper of some six feet and six inches in height and yet he can get nowhere near the ball.
The curve is ridiculous and the accuracy simply jaw dropping.
Getafe, Copa Del Rey Semi Final First Leg 18 April 2007
Back in 1986, Diego Maradona scored a goal remarkably similar to this one. With just one crucial difference.
By that time, Maradona was in his pomp and head and shoulders above anyone else on a football pitch.
To score a goal of such breathtaking quality at just 19 years old, and coming only a month after an El Clasico hat-trick, Lionel Messi really had announced himself to the world.
Receiving the ball from Xavi by the half way line, Messi showed great, quick feet to get himself out of a tight spot, being closely marked by two Getafe players.
His acceleration saw him bear down on goal and as two challenges came in on opposite sides, a quick swivel of the hips and he was through on goal.
To then have the composure to delicately lift the ball over the advancing keeper with his right foot was manna from heaven for the football purist.
In many respects it was the perfect goal, however there is one other in my opinion that stands above this one on the next slide.
Real Madrid, Champions League Semi Final First Leg 27 April 2011
It wasn't an easy choice for me to make this my numero uno.
Don't get me wrong, the Getafe goal was stunning in it's execution but in the context of what this goal meant to Barcelona, the quality of the opposition and the stature of the game, for me this golazo stands alone.
Can anyone else recall the animosity that surrounded the El Clasico fixtures at this time, the mini—series of four inside 18 days?
In the 86th minute of this pulsating clash, there seemed little danger to Madrid when Sergio Busquets played a short ball inside the centre circle to Messi.
As he turned back on himself, Messi will have seen Busquets have a quick look around, note he was in space and then drop his arms as though to say "give me the ball".
Instinctively sniffing out a chance, Messi then accelerated away from Lassana Diarra picking up the dead ball from Busquets along the way.
A body swerve and further change of pace took him away from Sergio Ramos and Raul Albiol and as Marcelo closed in a delightful right—footed slide rule finish past the advancing Casillas saw the ball nestling in the Madrid goal.