The beautiful game of football is incomplete without this little man from Argentina. One of the greatest footballers of our generation, Lionel Messi has led Barcelona to 8 Spanish League titles and 4 UEFA Champions League titles. Barcelona dominated European football for over a decade and this man is the Chief Architect.
There is no Spanish football without 'El Clasico', the rivalry between two of the most loved clubs in football history, Real Madrid and Barcelona. El Clasico has produced some of the greatest games in Spanish football history.
Legends like Raul, Beckham, Ronaldinho, and Zidane were part of the El Clasico history. Messi has mesmerized El Clasico for over a decade and he has produced some memorable moments.
Let's see 5 instances where Lionel Messi single-handedly destroyed Real Madrid.
#5 Barcelona 3 - 2 Real Madrid (2016/17)
In a must-win game to keep their hopes alive in the 2016/17 title race, Barcelona travelled to Real Madrid in a crunch game at Santiago Bernabeu in April.
Real started well and took the lead through a Casemiro strike in the 28th minute. Messi equalized right at the half-hour mark to make it 1-1 at the break. Ivan Rakitic restored the lead for Barcelona before James Rodriguez levelled it in the 85th minute.
The game headed towards a draw but Lionel Messi had other ideas. He scored on the counter in the 92nd minute to beat Real 3-2 to move Barcelona into first place in La Liga. It was his 500th career goal for Barcelona and one of the most important one.
#4 Barcelona 3 - 2 Real Madrid (2011/12)
Lionel Messi produced a stunning performance to kick-start the 2011/12 season with a brace against Real Madrid in the second leg of Spanish Super Cup. The tie was level at 2-2 after the first leg at Santiago Bernabeu.
In the return leg at Camp Nou, it did not take long for Barcelona to score as Lionel Messi set up Andres Iniesta for the opener but Cristiano Ronaldo equalized within the next five minutes. Messi put Barca in the lead again but Karim Benzema equalized for Real.
The game was set to go into extra-time until Messi produced a brilliant piece a football. He finished the game off 3-2 with a thunderous volley to clinch the Spanish Super Copa. He set up one and scored twice in a one-man show to destroy Real Madrid.
#3 Barcelona 2 - 0 Real Madrid (2010/11)
In the 2010/11 UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg at Santiago Bernabeu, Real Madrid was undone by Lionel Messi's magical display.
Both teams created a lot of chances but still, the game was level at 75 minutes as they were unable to break the deadlock. In the 76th minute of the game. Messi took the matter into his own hands and he made it 1-0 from an Ibrahim Afellay cross.
He made it 2-0 in the dying minutes of the second half with a wonderfully crafted solo goal. He dashed past 5 Real Madrid defenders to settle the game with a stunning strike. It was one of the best goals the competition has seen in the recent past and a rare piece of magic only Lionel Messi can produce.
Aged only 23, the young Argentine had already become Barcelona's third-top scorer in history.
#2 Barcelona 4 - 3 Real Madrid (2013/14)
It was one of the most dramatic El Clasico of this decade. Real, Barcelona and Atletico were in a three-way battle for the La Liga title.
In an all-important game at Santiago Bernabeu, Barcelona drew first blood with an Iniesta thunderbolt. Karim Benzema scored twice to make it 2-1. Lionel Messi scored just before the break to make it 2-2.
Cristiano Ronaldo restored the lead 10 minutes into the second half. Sergio Ramos conceded a penalty in the 60th minute and was sent off for a foul on Neymar. Messi stepped up and made it 3-3 with 30 minutes to play.
It was all Messi in the last 30 minutes as 10 men Real struggled to break Barcelona's rhythm. Barca was awarded another penalty in the 84th minute when Iniesta was fouled inside the box. Messi had no trouble converting the penalty as he made it 4-3. It was his 26th career hat-trick to put Barcelona back in the title race.
#1 Barcelona 3 - 3 Real Madrid (2006/07)
It has been a decade since Messi netted his first ever hat-trick of his career. The 19-year-old scored a dramatic injury-time goal to complete the stunning hat-trick and earn 10-ean Barcelona a 3-3 draw at Camp Nou against arch-rivals Real Madrid.
Real took the lead on three occasions through Van Nistelrooy and Sergio Ramos but Lionel Messi was not ready to accept defeat. Barca was reduced to 10 men even before the break when the score was at 2-2. They played most of the second half on the back foot as Real continued to push for the winner.
With the 73rd-minute goal from Sergio Ramos, the game looked all but settled the tie but Lionel Messi had something else on his agenda. In the injury time, Ronaldinho picked up the ball on the left and threaded a pass to Lionel Messi with surgical precision.
Messi controlled the ball beautifully before unleashing a shot into the far corner leaving real distraught. The game finished 3-3 and it was an epic hat-trick is Clasico's history.