A brace against Zaragoza took Lionel Messi to within just 7 goals of Gerd Muller’s world record of 85 strikes in a calendar year. Messi scored the opener with a lovely left footed finish after a 1-2 with Jordi Alba and then curled in a lovely shot to make the scoreline 3-1. He also had a hand in the other goal, Alex Song’s winner, as Messi laid the ball back for the Cameroonian midfielder to score.
Now on 78 goals in 2012, Messi has roughly 7 or 8 games left to break Muller’s record and stake another claim to being perhaps the greatest striker ever to have graced the game.
Messi and Muller have history between them; back in May Messi eclipsed Muller’s record for goals in a single season. Muller had held the record for 40 years with 67 goals until Messi came along with his 73 from the 2011/12 season. Barca went onto win the Copa del Rey last season but failed to retain the La Liga title or the Champions League, losing to Chelsea in the semi-finals – a team Messi has so far failed to score against and even missed a penalty in the second leg.
Currently Barca remain unbeaten in this league season but have suffered defeats to Real Madrid in the Spanish Supercopa and Celtic in the Champions League. Messi already has 17 goals in 12 La Liga games this year and 31 since June. On top of the incredible haul, Messi also became a father for the first time but couldn’t celebrate properly with Celtic shocking the Catalans in the immediate game following the birth.
Eight official fixtures remain for Messi to break the record but he may only feature in seven as Tito Vilanova may want to rest him during the Copa del Rey game with Alaves due to its low importance. Nevertheless, Messi has averaged about a goal a game through his entire Barcelona career and should comfortably break Muller’s record.
Two Champions League games remain in the year; away to Spartak Moscow and home to Benfica. Should Barca seal qualification in Russia this week then Messi could be eased to the side to allow a number of youngsters a game against Benfica, thus giving him 6 games at the very least to assert himself.
Of the six, 5 league games include trips to Levante, Betis and Valladolid and home ties against Athletic Bilbao and second-placed Atletico Madrid. As ever Barcelona will be relying on Messi to win the game for them firstly before admiring his abnormal goals tally.
It shouldn’t be a problem for Messi at all; this is a man who has 9 goals in his last 5 league games and is intent on beating his own record of 50 La Liga goals in a season. The man needs his own Guinness Book of Records adjudicator beside him at all times and will more than likely eclipse the 85 goals with games to spare!
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