In 59 appearances for club and country this year Lionel Messi has managed to amass an incredible tally of 76 goals. His double against Real Mallorca at the weekend saw him surpass the legendary 1958 tally of 75 goals from Pele. It has taken the Argentine six more appearances than his Brazilian counterpart to achieve this goal tally but considering the multi-national version of the game compared to that of 1958 Brazil you have to consider Lionel Messi’s achievement of higher merit than the former Santos and New York Cosmos striker.
Now ‘Leo’ sits on 76 goals and has the all-time record of Gerd Muller firmly in his sights. ‘Der Bomber’ bagged an incredible 85 goals in 60 matches for Germany and Bayern Munich four decades ago and now Messi will look to take the mantle with just 10 more goals. It is late in the year as it is so we thought we would assess the genius and his chances of beating the record based on his remaining fixtures.
Messi isn’t a man who likes to share by the looks of it and the idea of drawing level with Muller is of course impressive but he will certainly thrive on the challenge of grabbing the ten goals needed to becoming the world’s best ever talisman in a year.
Can he do it?
Firstly there is his last appearance for Argentina in 2012. He heads to Riyadh with the Albiceleste to take on Saudi Arabia. Their manager is the man who gave him his Barcelona debut and who Messi admits he owes ‘everything’; Frank Rijkaard.
He will hope to score at least once in this fixture considering his recent good form in international colours and the Arab sides lowly FIFA Ranking of 112.
For Blaugrana he has nine games left. Overall this gives him 10 games potentially to get 10 goals; a feat that would seem difficult to many but not Messi.
If he avoids injury and de-selection for lesser fixtures he will certainly fancy his chances of bagging the goals he needs; especially in home ties with Alaves, Zaragoza and Athletic Bilbao. Otherwise it is a difficult schedule; Champions League ties with Spartak Moscow and Benfica are surrounded by difficult looking La Liga fixtures with high flying Real Valladollid, Real Betis, Atletico Madrid and Levante.
It will be tight and don’t be surprised if he goes into the fixture at Valladollid’s Jose Zorrilla ground on the 22nd of December needing goals to beat the record.
The slate starts again in the Barcelona derby with Espanyol on New Year’s Day and it would take a brave man to bet on him not going into the game as the world’s best ever goalscorer in a calendar year.
Here are Messi’s last remaining fixtures of 2012 …. Can he score the ten goals he needs?
v Saudi Arabia (A)
v Real Zaragoza (H)
v Spartak Moscow (A)
v Levante (A)
v Alaves (H)
v Athletic Club Bilbao (H)
v Benfica (H)
v Real Betis (A)
v Atletico Madrid (H)
v Real Valladollid (A)
image: © jeroen bennink