🐐 Messi vs Madrid: Previewing the great man’s 46th collision with Los Blancos

Seeing Lionel Messi take on his fiercest traditional rivals Real Madrid in a jersey other than Barcelona’s will take some getting used to, but it should be a sight to savour. 

Stranger yet will be witnessing Messi and ex-Real Madrid stalwart Sergio Ramos line up for the same team. And we don’t have to wait too long for that either. 

Ramos isn’t fit enough to take part on Tuesday night but best believe that he’ll be a vocal cheerleading force on the PSG bench. This Champions League R16 first-leg showdown between Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid is about as glitzy as a knockout tie can get and both camps will be drawing on support from their entire squads and global followings.

PSG is yet to taste glory in the competition but they’ve made huge strides in recent seasons, finishing as losing finalists in 2020 and going out at the semifinal stage to Man City last term. Real Madrid’s pedigree at this level is beyond doubt, having won the European Cup/Champions League on 13 occasions. But most of the fanfare will be around Leo Messi this time around.

One of the marks of a truly great footballer is a habit to raise their game against the world’s best sides, and Messi has done that time and again. Messi has squared off with Real Madrid 45 times throughout his illustrious career and here’s how he has fared. 

☄ Messi vs Madrid: 45 mesmerising meetings & counting

  • Messi has directly contributed to 40 goals in 45 meetings with Madrid (26 goals, 14 assists), meaning that he has played a direct hand in a staggering 0.89 goals per game against the 13-time European champions.

  • Messi’s tally of 26 goals against Real Madrid is an all-time record in El Clasicos; he’s only scored more times against Sevilla, Atletico Madrid, Valencia and Athletic Bilbao.
  • Leo Messi has scored two career hat-tricks against Los Blancos, the first of those came in 2007.

  • Messi has ended up on the winning side 19 times, with 11 draws and 15 defeats – representing a favourable win ratio of 42%.
  • Despite his stunning record against Madrid, Messi failed to score in any of his last seven meetings with them across all competitions, last doing so in the 2017-18 season.

Then there was this solo Messi effort, a piece of brilliance that Peter Drury described as “a near-supernatural goal” and it goes down as one of the finest solo strikes in Champions League history. Barcelona went on to win the 2011 Champions League final against Man United at Wembley that year. Messi, unsurprisingly, was on the score sheet in Barca’s 3-1 win. 

🏟 PSG vs Real Madrid: Other points of interest

  • Since their UCL semifinal defeat here to Man City in April, Mauricio Pochettino’s PSG side has lost just one match at Parc des Princes (W16, D1) – and that was on penalties.
  • Kylian MbappĂ© was PSG’s injury-time hero against Rennes at the weekend, and three of his four UCL goals this term arrived inside the opening ten minutes of matches.

  • VinĂ­cius JĂșnior has netted six of his last seven goals after the half-time break.
  • Madrid kept four group stage clean sheets this season, a joint-high in the tournament. 
  • Los Blancos boast a formidable UCL last 16 record, losing just one of their last 11 away matches at this stage (W8, D2), opening the scoring in six of the last eight.

Leo Messi’s 46th head-to-head with Real Madrid, a team he’s so enjoyed inflicting harm upon in the past, is just one of many fascinating subplots set to unfold in Paris. Not least of which, the red-hot Kylian MbappĂ© who’s rumoured to be off to Madrid next season. 

Elite-level football is made for nights like these.

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