L’Equipe ran a story in its Sunday edition under the headline “Messi, Emery’s nightmare". Underneath was a breakdown of the Argentinean’s record against sides managed by the Basque tactician during the player’s time at Barcelona.
In total, Messi has found the net 25 times in 21 games against Emery: one against Almería; nine in 10 games against Valencia; four in two against Spartak Moscow and 11 in eight games against Sevilla. Emery has faced Barcelona 23 times during his career and has won only once, on a day when Messi wasn’t on the pitch.
Messi has been a thorn in Emery’s side for years and the then-Valencia coach was forced to watch as the Argentinean put four past his team in a single game in February 2012 after Pablo Piatti had given Valencia the lead.
But without doubt the game that hurt Emery the most was the European Supercup final in 2015. Messi struck two unstoppable free kicks in the first quarter of an hour to cancel out Ever Banega’s early goal and then hit another free-kick that Beto could only parry into the path of Pedro for the substitute to score in extra time as Barça won 5-4.
In the Champions League last 16, Emery will again have to seek a way to stop Messi as PSG look to cause a surprise and eliminate the Liga champions. It will be a difficult task: Messi has scored 10 goals in five games in Europe this season and has failed to find the net just twice in his last 10 Liga outings.