48 not out: Messi proves himself king of the goals
Having overtaken Ronaldo's Barcelona record, the little Argentine will expect to add more before the season's end
Thursday 14 April 2011
When lionel Messi scored his 48th goal of the season for Barcelona against Shakhtar Donetsk, he set a club record, overtaking the 47 that Ronaldo scored in 1996-97. What is even more remarkable is that Barcelona have at least 10 more matches this season, thereby giving Messi the chance to continue into uncharted scoring territory.
From his current position, it would be a surprise if Messi did not reach beyond those immediately ahead of him from the very modern era. Mario Jardel and Henrik Larsson scored 55 and 53 goals respectively in individual seasons. They did so, however, in the Portuguese and Scottish leagues respectively, both of which were weaker than today's Spanish league. La Liga is second in the Uefa co-efficient of domestic leagues and is host to most of the world's finest footballers, as well as the Spanish national team being world and European champions.
In the unlikely event that Messi scores no more goals this season, his current record will still be astonishing. He lies two short of a half-century, having scored 29 in 28 La Liga games, nine in 10 in the Champions League, seven in six in the cup and three in two in the Supercup. Moreover, he has the opportunity from here to push ever further into the stratosphere of goal-scoring achievement, as well as adding to his bounteous medal collection.
Barça play in the Clasico at Real Madrid on Saturday evening, and a victory in the Bernabeu would give them a near-insurmountable 11-point lead over their rivals with six league games left. Just four days after that, the two teams meet again, at the Mestalla to play the Copa del Rey final. Messi will be looking to achieve one of the few things he has not yet managed; to score against a side managed by Jose Mourinho, despite eight previous chances to do so.
Barcelona's remaining league games, at home to Osasuna, Espanyol and Deportivo, and away at Real Sociedad, Levante and Malaga, should provide Messi with sufficient chances to push towards Dixie Dean's 63 goals, amassed for Everton in 1927-28. In among those league fixtures are two Champions League semi-finals and, he will be hoping, a final at Wembley.
Messi has already won the European Cup, and scored in the 2009 final. His record in the elite club competition is another powerful argument for his brilliance, should any more be needed. On the least flat track of them all, in the tournament which Sir Alex Ferguson believes has superseded the World Cup as the apogee of football, Messi was top scorer with nine in 2009 and again with eight in 2010. So far this year he is top again, with nine.
On Tuesday, Barcelona knocked out Shakhtar, the only goal of the second leg coming from Messi, who shifted the ball from his right foot to his left before stabbing it home. "Our main shortcoming was our lack of Lionel Messi," said Shakhtar coach Mircea Lucescu. "If he played for us, I'm sure we would have beaten Barcelona."
Messi v Ronaldo
2010-11 Season 1996-97
48 (46) Goals (games) 47 (49)
23 Age 20
29 (28) La Liga goals (games) 34 (37)
9 (10) Europe 5 (7)
7 (6) Copa del Rey 8 (5)
3 (2) Spanish Supercup n/a
Highest scorers in a European season:
66 F Deak (Hun), Ferencvaros 1948-49
63 D Dean (Eng), Everton 1927-28
56 G Zsengeller (Hun), Ujpes 1938-39
55 M Jardel (Bra), Sporting 2001-02
53 H Larsson (Swe), Celtic 2000-01
Latest in Sport
Radamel Falcao exclusive: Forward says joining Manchester United is a 'dream come true'
Transfer deadline day: The best memes and tweets, featuring Radamel Falcao, Javier Hernandez and Bart Simpson
Radamel Falcao analysis: Manchester United have signed a top talent yet to hit his stride
Danny Welbeck signs for Arsenal: Gunners confirm signing of striker from Manchester United
Radamel Falcao to Manchester United: Louis van Gaal takes transfer spend beyond £140m - SIXTH most of any Premier league manager
- 1 Emma Watson on Jennifer Lawrence naked photo leak: 'Even worse than seeing women's privacy violated is reading the comments'
- 2 Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb
- 3 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
- 4 Cee Lo Green: It is only rape if the victim is conscious
- 5 Nigerian witch-finder Helen Ukpabio threatens legal action against human rights organisations
Rotherham child sex abuse scandal: Labour Home Office to be probed over what Tony Blair's government knew - and when
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Ashya King: Parents of five-year-old boy refused permission to visit him in hospital and denied bail at Spanish court
With Douglas Carswell joining Ukip, my party has taken another giant step forward
When elitism grips the top of British society to this extent, there is only one answer: abolish private schools
Ashya King: 'Cruel NHS has not given us the treatment we need', says father of five-year-old with brain tumour who fled to Spain