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Who are Lionel Messi's favourite opponents?

What teams bring out the killer in Lionel Messi? Which teams are his kryptonite?

Lionel Messi has had a glittering UEFA Champions League career
Lionel Messi has had a glittering UEFA Champions League career Getty Images

Lionel Messi has played 164 European games over the years for Barcelona and now Paris Saint-Germain, all in the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Super Cup, scoring 132 goals in meetings with 46 different clubs. Does he enjoy facing some teams more than others?

Messi and Ronaldo goal for goal

• Messi has scored 132 goals in 13,735 minutes of European football; that's a goal every 104 minutes and three seconds on average.

Watch 100 Lionel Messi goals

• The Argentinian has faced 46 different clubs in Europe (from 19 countries), failing to score against only four: Atlético, Inter, Rubin Kazan and Udinese. Atlético and Inter are the sides Messi has gone longest without scoring against: 360 minutes in UEFA competition.

• Chelsea are the team Messi has played the most minutes against (835 across ten matches); he did not score in his first 730 minutes facing the Blues but struck three times in two games against them in 2017/18.

• The only other team he encountered ten times in Europe with Barcelona were his current club Paris, totalling six goals over 794 minutes.

• The keeper who has gone the longest without conceding against Messi in Europe is Inter's Júlio César – 270 minutes – though Rubin Kazan's Sergei Ryzhikov may feel he has the moral right to that title. He went unbeaten in 237 minutes against Messi; that run took in four matches as opposed to Júlio César's three.

Watch Messi's Champions League debut

• Messi has scored more goals against Arsenal than any other team in UEFA competition – nine in 537 minutes comprising six games. On average, that's a goal every 59 minutes and 40 seconds.

• His most amenable opponents are Bayer Leverkusen: Messi has hit seven goals in 270 minutes against them, at a rate of one every 38 minutes and 34 seconds. Five of those strikes famously came in one match, a 7-1 win on 7 March 2012.

Who has Messi scored against in UEFA competition?

Opponents by clubGamesMinutesGoalsMinutes per goal
AC Milan8720890m
APOEL2180360m
Ajax3247641m10s
Arsenal6537959m40s
Atlético4360--
Basel2120260m
BATE190245m
Bayern65404135m
Benfica32031203m
Bremen249149m
Celtic6488861m
Chelsea108353278m20s
Club Brugge2180290m
Copenhagen2180360m
Dortmund21211121m
Dynamo Kyiv3270390m
Ferencváros190190m
Inter 4360--
Juventus86583219m20s
Leipzig190245m
Leverkusen3270738m34s
Liverpool43602180m
Lyon65385107m36s
Maccabi Haifa2180360m
Manchester City87207102m51s
Manchester United65124128m
Mönchengladbach190190m
Napoli21801180m
Olympiacos21801180m
Panathinaikos4293473m25s
Paris107946132m20s
Plzeň2180360m
Porto190190m
PSV2180445m
Rangers21801180m
Real Madrid43602180m
Roma43602180m
Rubin Kazan4237--
Sevilla22102105m
Shakhtar54203140m
Slavia Praha21801180m
Spartak Moskva2180445m
Sporting CP42661266m
Stuttgart3270390m
Tottenham2117258m30s
Udinese170--
TOTAL16413735132104m3s

Which nations' clubs has Messi scored against?

• Of the big five European footballing nations, German opponents seem to suit Messi best: he scores on average every 75 minutes against Bundesliga clubs. Goals are much rarer against sides from England (every 114 minutes), France (121 minutes), Italy (167 minutes) and Spain (232 minutes).

• Messi may relish Portuguese defences least of all; in 559 minutes against Liga teams, he has scored just three times – a goal every 186 minutes.

• Messi's goal against Israeli champions Maccabi Haifa on Matchday 2 of the 2022/23 UEFA Champions League was his first against a club from that country in his first game.

Opponents by nationalityGamesMinutesGoalsMinutes per goal
Belarus190245m
Belgium2180290m
Cyprus2180360m
Czech Republic4360490m
Denmark2180360m
England36299127114m6s
France16133211121m5s
Germany1814301975m26s
Greece6473594m36s
Hungary190190m
Israel2180360m
Italy27234814167m43s
Netherlands54271042m42s
Portugal85593186m20s
Russia64174105m15s
Scotland8668974m20s
Spain109304232m30s
Switzerland2120260m
Ukraine86906115m
TOTAL16413735132104m3s

When Messi has scored his UEFA club competition goals

• Messi is relatively slow to get started after the whistle; his least prolific scoring periods are at the start of either half. By contrast, he seems to hit something of a critical goalscoring mass in the closing stages: 15 goals between the 86th minute and the final whistle.

TimeGoals (penalties)
0-108 (1)
11-2015 (2)
21-3017 (4)
31-4018 (1)
41-half-time10 (1)
FIRST HALF68
46-557 (2)
56-6514 (2)
66-7514 (2)
76-8514 (2)
86-full-time15 (1)
SECOND HALF64
TOTAL132

Last updated 25/10/2022