The wait for Lionel Messi’s 500th senior goal goes on
After failing to score in Barcelona’s Champions League first leg against Atlético, Messi will have to wait at least one further week to score his 500th career goal.
It was widely reported in February that Messi had surpassed the 500 goals total with his hat-trick in Barcelona’s 7-0 demolition of Valencia. Yet sports statisticians Opta insisted that his total was actually ‘only’ on 485 and that others had incorrectly counted as senior goals the 16 goals Messi scored for the Argentinian Under-20 and Under-23 teams.
In Barcelona’s Champions League quarter-final first leg against Atlético, Messi had another chance to score his 500th senior goal and this time gain the all-important Opta stamp of approval. Yet the Argentinian was unable to find the back of the net at the Camp Nou with any of his six shots, even missing with an overhead kick in the second half.
The 28-year-old scored his 499th career goal on international duty with Argentina when he netted from the penalty spot in a World Cup qualifying match against Bolivia. That was his 50th in an Argentine shirt. His first senior goal came against Albacete on May 1 2005, when the future Ballon d’Or winner lobbed the keeper after a lovely assist from Ronaldinho. He has now etched his name onto a scoresheet a further 499 times.
As would be expected, the majority (406) of Messi’s goals have come via his left foot, while he has also scored 70 with his right foot. Most of his goals have also arrived in the second half of matches. He has scored 250 second half goals to 198 first half goals and has even scored 98 times in the final 15 minutes of matches. He has scored once in extra time to win the 2009 Club World Cup Final against Estudiantes. 308 of his goals have been scored in LaLiga, while he has 83 Champions League strikes to his name.
With his 500th strike, Messi will join all-time greats such as Pelé, Puskás and Gerd Müller, as well as Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored his 500th against Malmo in the Champions League group stages earlier this season. The Clásico match-winner is currently on 529 career goals.
Luis Enrique spoke of how special the prospect of Messi reaching goal number 500 was last week. “The figure is out of this world, from another galaxy. ... Even if you included ones scored on the training pitch, most other players wouldn't get anywhere near that,” the Barcelona coach told reporters.
The Ballon d’Or winner missed out on the chance to score his 500th goal against Real Madrid in Saturday’s Clásico loss, after telling reporters he’d have liked to score that milestone goal against Barça’s eternal rival. “500 goals? It would be great to reach that number against Real Madrid.”
Ultimately, though, Messi could not ink his name into the history books on Saturday evening as his side went down 2-1 to Real Madrid. He similarly couldn’t net against Real’s city rivals and will now have to wait until Saturday’s trip to Real Sociedad for another opportunity to reach the milestone.