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Golden Shoe 2018-19: Top Goalscorers in Europe, Latest Points Table on March 18

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 18, 2019

SEVILLE, SPAIN - MARCH 17: Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona in action during the La Liga match between Real Betis Balompie and FC Barcelona at Estadio Benito Villamarin on March 17, 2019 in Seville, Spain. (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Lionel Messi opened up some breathing room in the race for the European Golden Shoe on Sunday with his hat-trick in Barcelona's 4-1 win over Real Betis.

Behind him, Kylian Mbappe scored his 26th Ligue 1 goal of the season as Paris Saint-Germain beat Marseille 3-1.

Sampdoria's Fabio Quagliarella continued his remarkable campaign as he scored for the fourth Serie A match running in a thrilling 5-3 win for Sampdoria at Sassuolo.

Here are the standings on March 18:

                             

1. Lionel Messi, Barcelona: 29 x 2.0 difficulty factor = 58.0  

2. Kylian Mbappe, Paris Saint-Germain: 26 x 2.0 = 52.0

3. Fabio Quagliarella, Sampdoria: 21 x 2.0 = 42.0

T4. Cristiano Ronaldo, Juventus: 19 x 2.0 = 38.0

T4. Krzysztof Piatek, Genoa/AC Milan19 x 2.0 = 38.0

T6. Sergio Aguero, Manchester City: 18 x 2.0 = 36.0

T6. Luis Suarez, Barcelona: 18 x 2.0 = 36.0

T6. Robert Lewandowski, Bayern Munich: 18 x 2.0 = 36.0

T6. Robert Skov, FC Copenhagen: 24 x 1.5 = 36.0

10. Mbaye Diagne, Kasimpasa: 23 x 1.5 = 34.5

Rules: Every European league has been assigned a difficulty rating by UEFA between one and two, which is multiplied by a player's goal tally to calculate their points total.

For example, the Turkish Super Lig and the Danish Superliga have ratings of 1.5, so Robert Skov and Mbaye Diagne's goals are worth fewer points than Lionel Messi's in La Liga, which has a maximum rating of two.

                              

Messi's stunning hat-trick against Sevilla in February will take some beating, but he may have topped it himself on Sunday.

A sublime free-kick into the top corner kicked off proceedings, while his second was all about Luis Suarez's backheeled assist.

After Suarez got on the scoresheet himself with an excellent solo goal and Loren Moron pulled one back for Betis, Messi clipped the ball over Pau Lopez from just inside the area.

The strike even had the home fans at the Benito Villamarin Stadium on their feet, and Barcelona content editor Jason Pettigrove can see why:

B/R Football @brfootball

So good, they were applauded by opposition fans 👏 https://t.co/oZ6zwqs5xc

Jason Pettigrove @jasonpettigrove

Watched #Messi 's hat-trick goal again this morning. Of all that he's scored, I think that has to be my favourite. On the run, moving away from goal, one touch over a keeper who isn't the smallest... so much to love about it. No wonder the Betis fans were bowing/clapping.

Messi has been simply incredible once again in La Liga this season:

Eleven Sports @ElevenSports_UK

| 🤯 | Lionel Messi’s #LaLiga stats so far this season: 29 goals and 12 assists is 26 games… 😳 https://t.co/bDAXGVPI3F

He's six points ahead of Mbappe, though the Frenchman did score on Sunday with a cool first-time finish to break the deadlock in Le Classique.

Mbappe had the chance to add to his tally from the spot late on after being fouled in the box, but Yohann Pele saved the 20-year-old's penalty.

Penalties are what separates Mbappe and Messi's goal tallies in their respective leagues this season, per Scouted Football:

Scouted Football @ScoutedFtbl

Most non-penalty goals scored across Europe's top five leagues this season: 25 • 🇫🇷 Kylian Mbappé 25 • 🇦🇷 Lionel Messi 17 • 🇸🇳 Sadio Mané 17 • 🇵🇱 Krzysztof Piątek 16 • 🇦🇷 Sergio Agüero 16 • 🇨🇴 Duván Zapata Level with Lionel. https://t.co/eRYVEXF3Al

It's unlikely we'll see Quagliarella catch either Messi or Mbappe, but the Italian's renaissance has been a joy to watch this season.

He added another fine strike to the collection when he curled home from more than 20 yards, having already assisted Gregoire Defrel.

The 36-year-old is enjoying a career-best campaign:

OptaPaolo @OptaPaolo

21 & 7 - Fabio #Quagliarella has now established both his goal record (21) and his assists record (7) in a single Serie A campaign. Legendary. #SassuoloSampdoria #SerieA https://t.co/Cqr0colKMU

He's now two Serie A goals ahead of Juventus' Cristiano Ronaldo, who was rested for the Bianconeri's trip to Genoa.

Finishing the campaign as the Capocannoniere ahead of the Portugal international will be difficult—he could easily close a two-goal gap in a single match—but Juve's continued efforts in the UEFA Champions League will mean he's rested more frequently during the run-in.

If Quagliarella can keep finding the net consistently over the last 10 matches of the season, he may be able to capitalise.  

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