Lionel Messi turns 31 today as a titan of UEFA club competition football. Which teams has he found the hardest – or easiest – to break down?

• Messi has scored 103 goals in 10,632 minutes of European football; that’s a goal roughly every 103 minutes and 13 seconds.

• The Argentinian has faced 37 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

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 netting 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.

• His favourite opponents may be 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
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
Udinese 1 70
TOTAL 129 10632 103 103m13s

• 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 116m42s), 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 28 2334 20 116m42s
France 12 972 7 138m51s
Germany 14 1129 16 70m34s
Greece 6 473 5 94m36s
Italy 21 1814 12 151m10s
Netherlands 3 247 6 41m10s
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 129 10632 103 103m13s

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