He has done it yet again. But, this one was always coming. Heading into Barcelona’s away fixture to Real Mallorca on Sunday evening, Lionel Messi was just one goal shy of Pele’s record of 75 goals scored in a calendar year. After netting a brace on the island of Ibiza, he has now surpassed the Brazilian legend and again has written himself into the history books.
The Argentine superstar is now second in the all-time list for most goals scored in a calendar year with Germany legend Gerard Muller still in first place with 85 goals. No doubt, Messi will now be setting his sights on the German’s benchmark and few would bet against him doing so.
In his last seven matches played for the Catalans, Messi has found the net on 11 occasions. There are still nine more matches ahead for Barcelona before the New Year and at this rate he has every chance of bettering Muller. In addition, there are two international friendlies ahead for Argentina – one against Saudi Arabia and one against Brazil.
Talking of numbers and Messi, the word ‘ridiculous’ first comes to mind. In 11 La Liga matches Messi has already notched 15 strikes – three more than Cristiano Ronaldo. If one includes the Champions League, make that 18. His 76 goals and counting since the start of the year have come in just 59 matches, that is a goals-to-game ratio of over 1.2. In his last 46 games played in the Primera Division, he has netted 65 times. That is a goal-to-game ratio of over 1.4. Ridiculous, like I said.
It was made publicly clear that Messi was actually desperate to break Pele’s mark last weekend away to Celta Vigo to celebrate the birth of his son, Thiago. However, unusually he was unable to and uncharacteristically let his frustrations show towards the end of the match. But, against Mallorca there were no such problems.
Indeed, there was even some good fortune about his first goal as Mallorca ‘keeper Duda Aouate somehow let his shot go under him and into the net. His second, however, was world class; a timely lay-off from Alexis Sanchez, one touch, one shot and another record-breaking goal.
Should Messi eclipse Muller by the turn of the year it will be just another in a long and growing line of records he has set, all before he has even turned 26-years-old. Last season his 50 goals set a new mark for goals scored in one La Liga season. In all competitions last term his total was 73 goals – another Spanish record.
He has been a Champions League winner on four occasions, the top-scorer in the same competition the same number of times – another record in itself, and he is already the fourth-highest marksmen in European Cup history. With just 16 goals separating him and record-holder Raul Gonzalez, few would bet against him eventually overtaking the Real Madrid legend. There are so many more records, too, not to mention individual and team accolades. It is…ridiculous.
It almost seems like every time one watches Messi, one is watching history being written, literally. His on-going feats continue to defy belief, reality and sometimes the laws of nature. For such reasons, we observers should consider ourselves lucky to be able to bear witness to his all his exploits. He has made watching football today akin to being part of history.