Messi - Record Breaker
Lionel Messi has overtaken Ronaldo's Barca club record for goals scored in one season - now he's chasing Dixie Dean
When Lionel Messi scored his 48th goal of the season for Barcelona against Shakhtar Donetsk, he set a club record, overtaking the 47 that Ronaldo scored in 1996-97.
What is even more remarkable is that Barcelona have at least 10 more matches left this season, thereby giving Messi the chance to continue into uncharted scoring territory.
It would be a surprise if Messi did not reach beyond those immediately ahead of him from the modern era.
Mario Jardel and Henrik Larsson scored 55 and 53 goals respectively in individual seasons.
They did so, however, in the Portuguese and Scottish leagues respectively, both of which were weaker than today's Spanish league. In the unlikely event that Messi scores no more goals this season, his record will still be astonishing.
He lies two short of a half-century, having scored 29 in 28 La Liga games, nine in 10 in the Champions League, seven in six in the Copa del Rey and three in two in the Supercup.
Barca play in the Clasico at Real Madrid on Saturday evening, and a victory in the Bernabeu would give them a near-insurmountable 11-point lead over their rivals with six league games left. Just four days after that, the two teams meet again, at the Mestalla to play the Copa del Rey final.
Messi will be looking to achieve one of the few things he has not yet managed -- to score against a side managed by Jose Mourinho, despite eight previous chances to do so.
Barcelona's remaining league games, at home to Osasuna, Espanyol and Deportivo and away at Real Sociedad, Levante and Malaga, should provide Messi with sufficient chances to push towards Dixie Dean's 63 goals, amassed for Everton in 1927-28. In among those league fixtures are two Champions League semi-finals and, he will be hoping, a final at Wembley.
Messi has already won the European Cup, scoring in the 2009 final. His record in the elite club competition is another powerful argument for his brilliance, should any more be needed.
On the least flat track of them all, in the tournament which Alex Ferguson believes has superseded the World Cup as the apogee of football, Messi was top scorer with nine in 2009 and again with eight in 2010. So far this year he is top again, with nine.
On Tuesday, Barcelona knocked out Shakhtar, the only goal of the second leg coming from Messi, who shifted the ball from his right foot to his left before stabbing it home. (© Independent News Service)