Lionel Messi’s emergence in world football has been nothing short of magical. The Argentine has mesmerized fans of the beautiful game with his trademark brand of football, his goalscoring prowess, and his bigheartedness.
The 32-year-old is a record six-time Ballon d’Or winner and is the reigning Ballon d’Or holder as well as the Best FIFA Men’s Player of the Year winner. He was also awarded the UEFA Club Forward of the Year in 2019, following another record-breaking season where he ended as the top scorer in La Liga as well as in the Champions League, while also winning a record sixth European Golden Shoe. This season, Messi has two goals and three assists to his name in the Champions League and looks set to take the knockout stages by storm once again.
While La Liga has been witness to countless Messi masterclasses, the Argentine has put in outstanding performances in the Champions League too. We now present you his five greatest performances in the premier European competition, all of which, incidentally, are from the knockout stages. But which is Messi’s greatest performance in the UEFA Champions League? Read on to find out.
#5 Barcelona 4-1 Arsenal, 2010 Quarter-finals
In the 2009-10 season, Barcelona came up against Arsenal in the quarter-finals of the competition. In the first leg, the Catalans could only manage a 2-2 draw at the Emirates, which set up a spectacular second leg at the Camp Nou. Barcelona did have the advantage of two away goals, but in the end, those were of little significance, thanks to the presence of their Argentine wizard.
Still only 22 years old, Messi was already one of the best players in the world at the moment and showed his intent right from the start of the game. He tested Arsenal goalkeeper Manuel Almunia early in the game and then sent a delightful curler just over and onto the roof of the Arsenal goal. Barcelona looked set to score but were stunned when Nicklas Bendtner put the visitors ahead in the 18th minute of the game. It gave the Gunners a thin ray of hope and it appeared that an upset was on the cards. Messi, though, had other ideas.
Before Arsenal could settle down and build on their lead, the Argentine had pulled his team back on level terms. Playing a more central role in the second leg, Messi tried to play Xavi in, but his pass was blocked by Mikael Silvestre. However, the ball fell kindly back to Messi, who skipped past the Frenchman and found the back of the net. In the 37th minute, Messi glided past Gael Clichy and scored his second of the night to give his team the lead. It was turning out to be a one-man show by then, but the Argentine was not finished yet.
Just before half time, Messi completed his hat-trick with an outrageous chip and Barcelona were cruising. Half time came at the correct time for the visitors, as they were glad to see the back of their diminutive nemesis. Messi went on to add his fourth of the night in the second half, helping Barcelona win the tie 6-3 on aggregate.