Lionel Messi closes in on Cristiano Ronaldo's record of most freekick goals by an active player
At 32, Lionel Messi only seems to be getting better with age.
While completing his record-tying 34th LaLiga hat-trick against Celta Vigo on matchday-12 of the ongoing 2019-20 season, Messi scored a pair of freekicks to take his career goal tally from dead-ball situations outside the box to 52 in all competitions for club and country.
This is the second-highest by any active player, and is only one shy of Portuguese maestro Cristiano Ronaldo who has scored freekicks for Manchester United (13), Real Madrid (32), and Portugal (8).
The Portugal captain is yet to score a freekick goal in 28 attempts for his new club Juventus.
Messi has scored 46 of his 52 career freekicks for his club side Barcelona, while doing so six times on national duty.
Since the 2011-12 season, the diminutive Argentinian has scored more goals from freekicks (29) than five different clubs did so during the same period: Juventus - 27, Real Madrid - 23, AS Roma - 21, Olympique Lyonnais - 21 and Paris St. Germain - 20.
Messi's tally of eight successful freekicks in the 2018-19 season was twice the next best tally (Angel De Maria's four for Paris St. Germain) accomplished by a player from one of the top five football leagues in Europe - Italy, England, Spain, Germany, and France.
The Argentina captain's freekick technique has been analysed and dissected in minute detail by many a team over the years, but not many have been successful at stopping him. Messi employs a so-called 'Magnus Effect', where the ball's rotation generates a force perpendicular to the line of motion, therefore affecting the trajectory.
Messi has a consistent freekick technique with which he likes to keep opponent keepers guessing, even slipping the occasional ball underneath the wall. But the Argentina captain isn't in the list of top five scorers of freekick goals in the UEFA Champions League - a rare blot on an otherwise exemplary resume.