Lionel Messi's top 5 favourite international opponents
Lionel Messi is Argentina's all-time record goal-scorer, with 68 goals in 136 international appearances.
An 18-year-old Messi made his international debut for the Albiceleste in Budapest in a friendly against Hungary in 2005, a game which Argentina won 2-1. It would be five more games before the diminutive Argentinian would find the back of the net, when he did so in a 2-3 loss to Croatia in a friendly at Basel.
One of two Argentine players to have scored 50 international goals (the other being Gabriel Batistuta with 56), Messi became the youngest player after Diego Maradona to score a World Cup goal when he netted against Serbia and Montenegro at the 2006 World Cup.
A 22-year-old Messi became Argentina's youngest-ever captain at the World Cup when he led the team out against Greece in the 2010 edition of the quadrennial tournament in South Africa. At the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Messi emulated compatriot Oreste Corbatta (1958) by becoming just the second Argentinian player to score in every group game.
Despite his glittering success in club football, where he has won 34 titles, Messi's only international honors for Argentina comprise the 2005 Under-19 World Cup and the 2008 Olympics. Messi has fallen short of a title with the senior time on three occasions - the 2014 World Cup final against Germany, and the 2015-16 Copa America finals against Chile.
In 136 international games for the Albiceleste, Messi has scored 68 goals. Apart from his 32 goals in 45 friendlies, Messi has scored 21 goals in 45 World Cup qualifying games, 9 goals in 27 Copa America games and 6 goals in 19 games at the World Cup. Messi's return of 36 goals in 91 competitive fixtures is second only to Batistuta.
Messi has played against 49 different nations during his international career, which includes all 9 South American countries. In these games, Messi has scored against 29 different nations, failing to do so against 20 others.
Messi's favourite international opponents
Among the 29 different international teams against whom Messi has scored, the diminutive Argentinian has scored multiple goals against 19 different nations. Let us now look at his top five international opponents.
#1 Paraguay (5 goals in 9 games)
Messi has scored 5 goals in 9 games against Paraguay. 3 of those goals came in the 2014 World Cup qualification and 1 each in the group-stage at the 2015 and 2019 Copa América tournaments. Messi also has a hat-trick of assists against the South American nation, in the 2015 Copa semifinals.
Argentina have won 1 of the 4 games when Messi has scored against Paraguay, losing 1 and drawing 2 others.
#2 Brazil (4 goals in 10 games)
Messi's only goals in 10 games against Brazil have come in 2 games, both friendlies - one in which he scored a solitary goal and another in which he scored a hat-trick. Messi scored a goal against the South American giants in his fifth attempt.
In 10 games against Brazil that Messi has played, Argentina have won thrice, drawn once and lost five times.
#3 Venezuela (4 goals in 9 games)
Messi's 4 goals against Venezuela have come in 9 games. 3 of those have come in World Cup qualification and 1 at Copa America 2016.
Argentina have won each game against Venezuela when Messi has found the back of the net.
#4 Uruguay (4 goals in 8 games)
Messi's 4 goals against Uruguay have all come in World Cup qualifiers, while he has failed to score in 2 Copa America games.
Argentina have won all 3 games against Uruguay when Messi has scored.
#5 Ecuador (4 goals in 5 games)
Messi's 4 goals against Ecuador have come in 2 World Cup qualifying games, which includes a hat-trick in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers.
Messi has scored exactly 3 goals against 9 different nations, 2 goals against 5 different nations, and a goal against 10 others.