Who are Lionel Messi's favourite opponents?

Which teams have best reason to dread facing Lionel Messi and which defences has he yet to breach?

Lionel Messi's first 100 UEFA club competition goals

Which teams has Lionel Messi found the hardest – or easiest – to break down?

• Messi has scored 108 goals in 10,812 minutes of European football; that's a goal roughly every 100 minutes and seven seconds.

• The Argentinian has faced 39 different clubs in Europe (from 16 countries), failing to score against six: Atlético Madrid, Benfica, Internazionale Milano, Liverpool, Rubin Kazan and Udinese.

• Atlético are now the side he has gone longest without scoring against: 360 minutes in UEFA competitions.

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

Čech v Messi: the Chelsea years
Čech v Messi: the Chelsea years

Petr Čech was long considered Messi's arch-nemesis: the Czech goalkeeper did not concede in 495 minutes of UEFA Champions League football against Messi over six games with Chelsea, though the forward hit the woodwork three times – including once from the penalty spot. However, that myth was debunked when Čech faced Messi with Arsenal in the 2015/16 round of 16, the Barça ace striking three times across two legs.

Júlio César: Messi's ultimate adversary?
Júlio César: Messi's ultimate adversary?©Getty Images

• 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 has been unbeaten in 237 minutes against Messi; that run took in four matches, as opposed to Júlio César's three.

• The Blaugrana man has scored more goals against Arsenal than any other team in UEFA competition – nine in 447 minutes comprising six games. On average, that's a goal every 49 minutes and 40 seconds.

• He scored a hat-trick in his first #UCL meeting with PSV on matchday one of the 2018/19 campaign, making the Dutch side his favourite opponents yet. Prior to that, his most amenable opponents may have been 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 club
Games Minutes Goals Minutes
per goal
AC Milan 8 720 8 90m
APOEL 2 180 3 60m
Ajax 3 247 6 41m10s
Arsenal 6 447 9 49m40s
Atlético 4 360 - -
Basel 2 120 2 60m
BATE 1 90 2 45m
Bayern 5 450 4 112m30s
Benfica 2 122 - -
Bremen 2 49 1 49m
Celtic 6 488 8 61m
Chelsea 10 835 3 278m20s
Dynamo Kyiv 2 180 2 90m
Internazionale 3 270 - -
Juventus 5 394 2 197m
København     2 180 3 60m
Leverkusen 3 270 7 38m34s
Liverpool 2 180 - -
Lyon 4 358 3 119m20s
Manchester City 6 540 6 90m
Manchester United      4 332 2 166m
Mönchengladbach 1 90 1 90m
Olympiacos 2 180 1 180m
Panathinaikos 4 293 4 73m25s
Paris 8 614 4 153m30s
Plzeň 2 180 3 60m
Porto 1 90 1 90m
PSV 1 90 3 30m
Rangers 2 180 1 180m
Real Madrid        2 180 2 90m
Roma 4 360 2 180m
Rubin Kazan 4 237 - -
Sevilla 2 210 2 105m
Shakhtar 5 420 3 140m
Spartak Moskva 2 180 4 45m
Sporting CP 4 266 1 266m
Stuttgart 3 270 3 90m
Tottenham 1 90 2 45m
Udinese 1 70 - -
TOTAL 131 10812 108 100m7s

• Of the big five European footballing nations, German opponents seem to suit Messi best: he scores on average every 70 minutes and 34 seconds against Bundesliga clubs. Goals are much rarer against sides from England (every 110m11s), Italy (151m10s), France (138m51s) and Spain (187m30s).

• Messi may relish Portuguese rearguards least of all; in 478 minutes against Liga teams, he has scored just twice – a goal every 239 minutes.

Which nations' clubs has Messi scored against?

Opponents by nationality Games Minutes Goals Minutes
per goal
Belarus 1 90 2 45m
Cyprus 2 180 3 60m
Czech Republic 2 180 3 60m
Denmark 2 180 3 60m
England 29 2424 22 110m11s
France 12 972 7 138m51s
Germany 14 1129 16 70m34s
Greece 6 473 5 94m36s
Italy 21 1814 12 151m10s
Netherlands 4 337 9 37m27s
Portugal 7 478 2 239m
Russia 6 417 4 104m15s
Scotland 8 668 9 74m20s
Spain 8 750 4 187m30s
Switzerland 2 120 2 60m
Ukraine 7 600 5 120m
TOTAL 131 10812 108 100m7s

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 velocity in the final minutes, 14 goals between the 86th minute and the final whistle.

• Messi has scored 11 penalties in UEFA competitions but failed to find the target with three; two saved (v Panathinaikos, September 2010, and v Man. City, February 2015) and one against the crossbar (v Chelsea, April 2012).

Time Goals (penalties)
0-10 6
11-20 11 (1)
21-30 13 (2)
31-40 14 (1)
41-half-time 9 (1)
FIRST HALF 53
46-55 7 (2)
56-65 13 (2)
66-75 10 (1)
76-85 11 (1)
85-full-time 14
SECOND HALF 55
TOTAL 108

Top