Lionel Messi’s 10 greatest Barcelona moments
The Argentine star left in the summer of 2021 after an outrageous stint – 778 games, 672 goals, 305 assists, 10 La Liga titles, four Champions League’s and a record six Ballons d’Or. He even won a further one Ballon d'Or just months after leaving the club.
Messi was the driving force behind so many of Barcelona’s greatest successes in the 21st century, with his name becoming synonymous with the club.
Gracias, Leo pic.twitter.com/zQDFiDUK47— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona_es) August 5, 2021
Narrowing down his best performances, goals and successes is a near impossible task, but here are 10 of the most iconic moments.
Insane solo goal against Getafe
Messi was just behind the halfway line when he picked up the ball in the 2007 Copa Del Rey semi-final, with Barcelona up against Getafe.
With two defenders immediately converging on him, a baby-faced Messi danced by them before bursting towards the 18-yard box.
Messi skipped past another two defenders before rounding the keeper and chipping the ball over a retreating Getafe player on the goal line.
It was one of the great goals of not only Messi’s career, but in Barcelona’s entire history, taking six players out of the game in total. It was voted Barcelona’s best ever goal in a fan survey in 2019 and inevitably compared to Diego Maradona's solo goal against England from the 1986 World Cup.
Brilliant header in the 2009 Champions League final
An 18-year-old Messi had missed the 2006 Champions League final, in which Barcelona beat Arsenal, and had to wait three years to get his chance at redemption.
Barca made it all the way to the final in 2009, coming up against reigning champions Manchester United, who had just enjoyed a stellar Premier League season.
Samuel Eto’o opened the scoring 10 minutes in, but Man Utd remained in the game until Messi popped up with 20 minutes to play.
Xavi lofted a ball to the back post towards Messi who leapt unmarked, and the header was a thing of beauty. Messi was leaning backwards at the point of contact, but was able to direct the ball perfectly into the far corner. The picture of him running towards the corner flag kissing his boot remains one of his most iconic images.
Four-goal haul against Arsenal in 2010
A year after his final heroics in Rome, Messi’s Barcelona were up against it in the Champions League round of 16. Arsenal had held the Blaugrana to a 2-2 draw at the Emirates Stadium and took an early lead in the second leg at Camp Nou.
Unfortunately for the Gunners, that goal only proved to poke the bear. Barca’s No.10 rippled Manuel Almunia’s net in the 21st minute with a fearsome strike from outside the area, before adding two more before half-time to complete his hat-trick.
Messi capped off one of his best ever Barcelona performances with a fourth in the dying minutes, slotting through Almunia’s legs to book Barcelona’s place in the last eight.
Breaking Real Madrid hearts at the Bernabeu in 2011
Messi faced Real Madrid in the Champions League for the first time in 2011 as the footballing world was treated to an El Clasico semi-final tie.
The first leg took place at the Santiago Bernabeu, and a fiery contest saw both sides handed red cards in the opening hour.
But, Messi stepped up in the last 15 minutes, tapping home an Ibrahim Afellay cross in the 76th minute before one of his greatest goals in the Barca shirt.
Linking up with Sergio Busquets, Messi took on just about the entire Real Madrid team before sliding the ball into the bottom left corner with his right foot to send Barcelona to the final. He went on to score at Wembley in the final as Barca beat Man Utd again to lift the trophy.
Humiliation of Bayer Leverkusen in 2012
In yet another iconic Champions League performance, Messi became the first player ever to score five goals in a single Champions League game in 2012.
Barcelona had already beaten Bayer Leverkusen 3-1 away from home, but Messi smelled more blood and put the Germans to the sword in the second leg.
The Argentine scored five goals, including two audacious chips, in a 7-1 romp for Barcelona and added another page of history to the Champions League.
Record-breaking 2012 calendar year
Gerd Muller’s record of 85 goals in a single calendar year seemed unbreakable, and had stood for 40 years until Messi had something to say about it.
Messi’s 2012 was absolutely absurd. He ended the 2011/12 season with 50 goals in La Liga and won a fourth consecutive Ballon d’Or, though Barcelona somehow failed to win the league.
Come December 31, Messi had scored an outrageous 91 goals in 2012, with 79 of them coming in Barcelona colours.
Leaving Jerome Boateng on the Camp Nou turf
Continuing with the Champions League theme and another candidate for one of Messi’s greatest ever goals is a moment still spoken about to this day.
The image of Jerome Boateng slowly dropping to the floor after being beaten all ends up by Messi rests in football folklore.
UEFA's Goal of the Season nominees are out, which is the perfect excuse to watch the five previous winners... 🥁— Goal (@goal) July 20, 2021
Kicking things off is Lionel Messi (who else?) turning Jerome Boateng into a statue in 2015 🗽pic.twitter.com/fQW7rAnykQ
Messi’s dancing feet sent the German defender crashing to the floor and his dinked finish over Manuel Neuer was delightful, as Barca dumped Bayern Munich out of the Champions League on their way to winning it in 2015.
Solo goal vs Bilbao in 2015
Hugging the right-hand touchline, seemingly with nowhere to go, Messi created another magical solo goal in the Copa Del Rey, eight years after his effort against Getafe.
As Barcelona faced Athletic Bilbao in the final in 2015, Messi seized control 20 minutes in, scoring one of the competition’s greatest ever goals.
Messi somehow managed to squirm away from three defenders on the wing before moving into the box, rounding one more Athletic player and firing a shot into the bottom corner at the near post. Barca went on to win the game 3-1, the first of four cup successes in a row.
THAT free-kick against Liverpool
As good as Messi is in open play with a ball at his feet, his ability to strike a dead ball perfectly is an incredible one, and he showed it once again against Liverpool with arguably his best ever free-kick goal.
With Barcelona leading the Champions League semi-final first leg 2-0 at Camp Nou, Messi stepped up from all of 30-yards out with only one thought on his mind.
Messi whipped the ball right into the top left corner, embarrassing Alisson in the Liverpool goal and wheeling away in celebration, almost hardly believing what he’d just done himself.
Unfortunately for Messi and for Barcelona, Liverpool mounted an insane second leg comeback at Anfield, and that appeared to be the beginning of the end for Messi at the club.
Sixth Ballon d’Or crown
Despite losing to Liverpool on the pitch, Messi beat them off it as he narrowly edged Virgil van Dijk to win a record sixth Ballon d’Or in 2019.
Messi scored 46 goals and laid on 17 assists for his teammates in the 12-month period, dragging Barcelona to the La Liga title.
That took him clear of Cristiano Ronaldo as the most successful player in the history of the prestigious award, and he collected a seventh in 2021.