Saturday world soccer giants Barcelona and Real Madrid meet for the first time this season, and while the stakes are always high that’s definitely the case when it comes to the La Liga race. Los Blancos, who have yet to experience defeat, enter the weekend with a six-point lead on the Blaugrana, and three points on the road would strengthen Real Madrid’s grip on the top spot. With that being the case, a big day from star Lionel Messi would be just what the doctor ordered for Luis Enrique’s side.
Here’s what you need to know about Messi’s production in El Clasico.
1. Messi Has Scored a Record 21 Goals in All Competitions
In the history of El Clásico, no player has scored more goals across all competitions than Messi, who has 21 to his credit. That’s three more goals than late Real Madrid great Alfredo Di Stefano, and five more than current rival Cristiano Ronaldo. Of Messi’s 21 goals across all competitions, 14 have been scored in La Liga matches, five in the Spanish Super Cup and two in European competition (UEFA Champions League). Messi’s La Liga total is tied for the most in the history of the rivalry, with the late Di Stefano also having 14 goals in La Liga editions of El Clásico to his credit.
2. Messi Opened His Account in the Rivalry in 2007
Just 19 years old at the time, Messi made quite the impression in the second meeting of the season between the La Liga rivals on March 10, 2007. In a highly entertaining 3-3 draw, Messi scored all three goals for the Blaugrana with the first coming in the 11th minute on a pass from Samuel Eto’o. Messi would only wait 17 minutes before striking again, cleaning up a Ronaldinho shot that was saved by Real Madrid keeper Iker Casillas. Two players were responsible for the four first-half goals: Messi and Real Madrid’s Ruud van Nistelrooy.
Messi scored his third goal in second-half stoppage time to salvage a 3-3 draw for a Barcelona side that played the entire second half a man down due to defender Oleguer being sent off just before halftime. The match would come to be known as “The Lionel Messi Match” as a result of the then-young player’s performance.
3. Messi Scored His Fifth Goal in El Clásico During the 2008-09 Season
In a season in which Barcelona won the UEFA Champions League, La Liga and Copa del Rey titles, the Blaugrana were dominant in their 6-2 victory at the Bernabéu on May 1, 2009. Pep Guardiola’s side won by the final score of 6-2, with Messi and Thierry Henry scoring two goals apiece to lead the rout. The goals, which were scored in the 36th and 75th minutes on assists from Xavi, pushed Messi’s total in El Clásico to six. The victory sealed the La Liga title for Barcelona, and as noted above it was just one of three trophies won by the club that season.
4. Messi Tallied His Second El Clásico Hat Trick on March 23, 2014
Barcelona won both meetings between the two clubs during La Liga play during the 2013-14 season, winning 2-1 at the Camp Nou and 4-3 at the Bernabéu. It would be during that second meeting that Messi would record his second career hat trick against Real Madrid, with two of the three goals coming on second-half penalties. Messi’s first goal of the match, scored in the 42nd minute, was the one that pushed him past Di Stefano and into the top spot with 19 goals scored in El Clásico matches.
Messi’s second penalty completed Barcelona’s comeback from 3-2 down, and the victory ended Real Madrid’s 31-match unbeaten streak. Entering Saturday’s match, Real Madrid has gone 31 matches since their last defeat. And an interesting note about the 2013-14 season: neither Barcelona nor Real Madrid won La Liga, with Atletico Madrid taking the top spot.
5. Messi Has Gone Five El Clásico Matches Without a Goal
The hat trick Messi tallied in 2014 also represents the last time that he’s scored against Barcelona’s biggest rival. Messi’s gone five matches in all competitions without a goal against Real Madrid, with four of the matches coming in La Liga. The lone exception was the 2014 Copa del Rey final, a match won by Real Madrid by the final score of 2-1. In those five matches Messi, the record holder for most assists in El Clásico history with 13 in all competitions, accounted for just one assist. In those five matches, Barcelona has a record of two wins and three defeats.
One of Barcelona’s two wins during Messi’s dry spell was a 4-0 victory at the Bernabéu last November, with Luis Suárez scoring twice and Neymar and Andres Iniesta adding a goal apiece. Messi, who came on as a substitution that night, missed the five La Liga matches prior with a torn ligament in his left knee.
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