Lionel Messi completed the perfect personal half of a la Liga season on Saturday evening, in the process setting another record, by scoring against all 19 Primera opponents in consecutive matches (coincidentally, 19 was his squad number before being given the coveted number 10 shirt on Ronaldinho’s departure from the Camp Nou). Cristiano Ronaldo scored against all 19 opponents in Madrid’s record breaking last season, but not in consecutive matches.
The unique feat from the Barcelona forward extended a record he had already broken of scoring in consecutive matches. The previous league record was set in the 1937/38 season when striker Teodor Peterek scored 22 goals in 16 consecutive matches for Ruch Chorzów in the Polish league.
Spain’s unique manner of fixture allocation means each side faces each other in the first half of the season and then play the same set of fixtures at the opponents venue in the same order in the second. Which takes us back to F.C. Barcelona vs Celta Vigo on the 3rd of November of 2012, the last occasion Messi failed to score.
Since that date, Messi has not failed to find the net in league action. The following midweek Barça visited Celtic Park in Glasgow, going down to an unexpected 2-1 Champions League defeat to the Scottish Champions, Leo scored the late consolation that night. That defeat shook the Catalans and would appear to have stirred Messi. If the young Argentine was feared to be feeling complacent before the match, a perfect run of scoring in each of the 19 league games that have followed has certainly put aside any doubts that any fans may have had of his commitment.
The next league match was at the Camp Nou on the 11th of November and allowed the Blaugrana to reacquaint themselves with victory and a 4-2 league triumph included two Messi strikes. That was round 11 of the league and the start of what has become a historic goalscoring run.
Five other braces quickly followed against Real Zaragoza, Levante, Athletic Bilbao, Real Betis and Atlético Madrid. From round 17 his scoring rate dropped to one a game against Real Valladolid, Espanyol, Málaga and Real Sociedad until he once again seemed to step up a gear and contributed an explosive four goal haul in a 5-1 mauling of Real Mallorca.
In the next two rounds in the league, against Valencia and Getafe, the Argentine again appeared to take a rest scoring a solitary goal in each match before again scoring a double in round 24 against Granada. Single strikes per game followed in a period that saw Barça’s league form drop against Sevilla, Real Madrid and Deportivo. In the 3-1 home win against Rayo Vallecano Messi set himself on the doorstep to a unique record by scoring twice, he also threw in the assist to David Villa for good measure.
Saturday’s goal away at Celta completed the sequence of 19 games and in that period he had racked up an incredible 30 goals, he has scored 42 for the league season to date. His own record of 50 is less than a year old, but with 9 rounds left to go, who is to say the perfect 10 won’t break that record as well…