Five-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi is, without a doubt, the best player in the world currently. His left foot is regarded as one the best in the history of the game, while his intelligence and precision are also second to none.
The 29-year-old Argentine playmaker has scored over 500 career goals for club and country. However, the one surprising statistic about Messi is his penalty conversion rate. Out of 92 spot kicks that he has taken so far at the senior level, he has missed an astonishingly high 20. His success rate is just 78.26%.
Also read: Top 5 Cristiano Ronaldo free-kick goals
While some these penalty misses were of little significance as Messi’s side eased past the opponents, few others went on to become the deciding factor in the result of the match. On that note, here we have listed the five biggest penalty misses by the Argentine legend.
#5 2011 Copa Del Rey vs Real Betis
Coming into this match, Barcelona were unbeaten in 28 games. They had already won the first leg of the Copa Del Rey fixture 5-0 against Segunda Divison club Real Betis at home and were expected to ease past the minnows in the second leg.
Although manager Pep Guardiola rested some of the regulars, the likes of Messi, Xavi and Pique were retained in the line-up. Surprisingly, though, Betis were 2-0 up with only seven minutes on the clock. Messi scored an excellent goal but Betis regained their two-goal advantage moments before half-time.
Early, into the second half, Barcelona were presented the opportunity to get one goal back when they were awarded a penalty for a hand-ball incident. Messi, however, skied his poor effort leaving the crowd in disbelief. Barcelona went on to lose the match 3-1.
The error from the best player in the world brought about jeers on the internet while the commentators suggested that the Argentine was human after all. Ironically, only a day before, Adidas had released a new video congratulating Messi on his 2011 Ballon d’Or award.
#4 2013 Spanish Super Cup final vs Atletico Madrid
Barcelona were hosting Atletico Madrid in the second leg of the Spanish Super Cup. Th first leg at the Vicente Calderon had ended in a 1-1 draw and the stakes were high as the winner would take home the first trophy of the season.
Owing to Atletico’s superior defence, the game was tied at 0-0. However, they seemed to lose their discipline in the final moments as Felipe Luis was sent off. Moments later Pedro was tripped by Miranda in the area and Barcelona were handed a penalty kick.
The decision itself was a harsh one but Messi had the chance to put the game to bed once and for all. However, the Argentine sent his spot-kick against the crossbar as Atletico stopper Thibaut Courtois dived in the wrong direction. The crowd was astonished as the ball ricocheted off the woodwork.
Overall, Messi failed to shine in the match but had the chance to cap it off with the winner. Although Barcelona went on to win the trophy – for a record 11 times – on away goals, Messi’s penalty miss was the headlines in every newspaper.
#3 2014 International Friendly vs Brazil
Argentina had fallen behind fierce rivals Brazil in the 28th minute when Diego Tardelli latched onto a defensive error by Federico Fernandez and Pablo Zabaleta and found the back of the net.
However, the Argentinians were presented with an opportunity to level the scores when Angel Di Maria was fouled by Danila inside the penalty box. A goal at this juncture would have given Argentina the momentum to take something away from the match and captain Messi stood up to take the kick from 12 yards.
But the Barcelona star’s tame attempt was easily saved by Brazilian custodian Jefferson. In the second half, Tardelli scored yet another goal from a header as the match ended 2-0 in favour of Brazil.
Messi later rued his missed chance as he said, “The match was determined by our two errors. The error in the first goal and the penalty were the defining factors. If it had been converted, it would have changed the match.”
#2 2012 UEFA Champions League semi-final vs Chelsea
Chelsea had already won the first leg of the Champions League fixture at Stamford Bridge by the narrowest of margins and had hoped that they would be able to hold on to their away goal advantage at the Nou Camp.
The London side were reduced to 10 men when John Terry was showed the red card and were trailing 2-0 in the semi-final fixture. Just before half-time, they did manage to pull one back through Ramires.
However, just three minutes into the 2nd half, the Blues’ hopes of holding on to their away goal advantage were dealt a blow as Didier Drogba fouled Cesc Fabregas inside his own penalty area.
Messi, who had never scored against Chelsea stopper Petr Cech, stepped up to seal it for Barcelona. Incredibly, though, he could not even force Cech into making a save as his shot rebounded off the post. Barcelona went on to lose the fixture 2-3 on aggregate as Chelsea made their way into the finals and a few days later lifted the trophy.
#1 2016 Copa America final vs Chile
This is probably Lionel Messi’s biggest miss in his career in terms of the magnitude of the fixture. Argentina were facing Chile in the 2016 Copa America final – a rematch of the 2015 Copa America final which Chile had won.
The game was tied 0-0 after regulation time and even extra time could not produce a winner. Thereby the game was to be decided by the penalty shootout. Arturo Vidal had missed the opening spot kick and Chile were in a vulnerable position.
Messi stepped up to take the opening penalty for his side, carrying the hopes of the entire nation for the first major trophy in almost two decades. The forward took his time in setting up his shot. However, the burden of expectations proved to be too heavy as Messi blazed his shot high over the crossbar.
Chile went on to retain their Copa America trophy, winning 4-2 in the shootout as Argentina never really recovered from Messi’s unfortunate miss. Just after the game, the Argentine superstar announced his retirement from International football only to make a comeback in September.