The journey of Lionel Messi: the 'King of El Clasico'

One of the best players in the world ,Lionel Messi will be a crucial part of the biggest game at the club level. This will be El Clasico number 42 for the Argentine. 

With an appearance in the match, the Ballon d’Or winner will equal Xavi Hernandez for the most appearances ever in El Clasico for a Barcelona player.

However, the Real Madrid captain, Sergio Ramos will be appearing in his 43rd El Clasico, the most by a player on either side. 

An interesting fact about the Barcelona number 10 is that now, he has gone three games without scoring or assisting, and has so far never gone on a streak of four matches, which makes this match even more interesting. 

Lionel Messi, however, is the all-time top scorer in El Clasico with a total of 26 strikes ahead of the legendary Madrid trio, Alfredo di Stefano, Cristiano Ronaldo and Raul. Messi is also the leading play-maker in the fixture’s history with 14 assists by his name.

Messi’s Clasico story began in November 2004, when the 17-year-old teenager was included on the bench, resulting in a 3-0 win at Camp Nou. Messi had made his La Liga debut a month prior. 

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Courtesy: Daily Express

A year later, Messi featuring on the right of the front three, tormented the side which featured legends like David Beckham, Zinedine Zidane and Ramos.

Messi assisted for the first time which was almost his goal as the ball pinched off the toe of the youngster with Eto’o scoring. It was a worthy wait of another 14 months for the first of Messi’s goals in the Clasico.

In March 2007, Messi made his first-ever El Clasico appearance at Camp Nou, magical after scoring a hat-trick. 

The next day he made the headlines with a newspaper running a ‘Spot the Difference’ cartoon featuring Diego Maradona and Messi side by side, highlighted by a caption which said, “Don’t kill yourself trying-there is no difference.” 

His only other hat-trick came against Madrid in 2014 at Bernabeu as Messi scored an 84th-minute penalty and sealed a 4-3 win. 

The Argentine’s most memorable displays include a brace in the 6-2 humiliation of Madrid in 2009 when Messi played as a ‘false nine,’ causing devastation in the Madrid backline.

It was the Champions League then when Pep’s Barcelona went head to head with Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid and Messi single-handedly took the ball from Sergio Busquets’ toe and went past through Lassana Diarra, Ramos, Raul Albiol and Marcelo before sliding past Iker Casillas.

The best moment featuring Messi in an El Clasico still remains the La Liga fixture when he held his shirt up, presenting it to the crowd. However, Madrid won both, the La Liga and the UCL that year.

Another eye-catching fact is that 15 out of Messi’s 26 El Clasico goals have come at the Santiago Bernabeu. 

In a recent interview, Messi admitted that playing a Clasico at home is difficult than playing away, as Madrid give them more space at home, being the host team and thus, scoring becomes easier while they sit back at Camp Nou and hit on the counter which troubles the Barcelona backline.

Featured image credits- JensEirik

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