Lionel Messi's became Barcelona's highest goalscorer of all time after his hat-trick against Granada helped the Spanish champions close on La Liga leaders Real Madrid.
Lionel Messi scored five goals in a single game last week, becoming the first player in the Champions League ever to do so. Most were impressed; some were not. Against Bayer Leverkusen, they said: So what? It is a familiar argument -- and one that Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in particular have been forced to confront time and time again. Between them, they have racked up astonishing goal scoring figures, breaking records at every turn -- Messi has scored 50 goals already this season, Ronaldo 40 -- but the nagging doubt lingers. Yeah, they say, but against who?
Two more goals from Lionel Messi, taking him to 50 goals in all competitions in a remarkable season, saw Barcelona win 2-0 at Racing Santander on Sunday to close the gap on Spanish leaders Real Madrid back to 10 points.
They say the Ballon d'Or is democratic but it's not. Not really. A proper democratic vote surely relies on a universal, secret ballot. By contrast, one of the things that makes the Ballon d'Or vote so interesting to pick over is the fact that you can pick over it. The real fun comes after Messi and Xavi have stepped down from the podium and the list of voters and votes is handed out.
There are still those, remarkably, who ask whether tactics really matter, still those who persist with the Luddite insistence that the best players will win out come what may. No matter that Lionel Messi never produces his Barcelona form for Argentina or that Dani Alves regularly flounders for Brazil, Barcelona, these flat-earthers keep saying, win because they have the best players.
Sports Illustrated will announce its choice for Sportsman of the Year on Dec. 5. Here's one of the nominations for that honor by an SI writer.
Lionel Messi inspired Argentina as the two-time world champions came from behind to defeat Colombia 2-1 in a South American World Cup qualifying clash on Tuesday.
Lionel Messi scored his second hat-trick in four days as titleholders Barcelona marched into the knockout stage of the European Champions League on a night of milestones for the Spanish club on Tuesday.
A first-half hat-trick by Lionel Messi helped Barcelona to a 5-0 win over Mallorca at the Nou Camp on Saturday.
Lionel Messi scored twice as Barcelona beat Racing Santander 3-0 in the Nou Camp Saturday night to stay top of Spain's La Liga.
Barcelona and Real Madrid have roared back to form ahead of next week's Champions League challenges, with the Spanish giants recording comfortable victories in La Liga on Saturday.
Lionel Messi scored a hat-trick as Barcelona produced a mesmeric display of attacking football to rout Osasuna 8-0 in the Camp Nou Saturday.
Lionel Messi will captain Argentina for the first time as they take on Venezuela in a friendly in cricket-mad India Friday.
Barcelona beat Real Madrid 3-2 at the Camp Nou on Wednesday to claim the Spanish Super Cup in an ill-tempered El Clasico clash.
Baerke van der Meij may only be 18-months-old but already he is making a name for himself in the fiercely competitive world of soccer.
Last season, Lionel Messi faced Osasuna having scored hat tricks in each of his previous two games. All the buildup was about whether he could become the first player since the War to score three trebles in successive La Liga matches. Osasuna, understandably, double-marked him and, in a tetchy game, Messi was booked for kicking the ball away in frustration. With 18 minutes to go, though, Zlatan Ibrahimovic finally broke through for Barca; the first player over to congratulate him was Messi, his face relaxed into smiles. For him, the most important thing was not his personal record, but the team, winning the game.
Barcelona striker Lionel Messi has hailed the performance of his teammates after the Spanish giants beat Manchester United 3-1 at Wembley on Saturday to lift their third Champions League trophy in six seasons.
Three thoughts after Barcelona defeated Manchester United 3-1 to win the UEFA Champions League title:
WEMBLEY, ENGLAND -- Surely now the doubters have been won over: this Barcelona is one of the greatest teams there has ever been. In Pep Guardiola's three seasons in charge Barca has twice won the Champions League, and it was denied a hat trick that would have placed it statistically alongside the Ajax and Bayern Munich sides of the seventies only by the combined might of Jose Mourinho and an Icelandic volcano.
The latest installment of the Super Clásico delivered a widespread sense around the world that amid the tackling, the fouling, the diving and the brawling a splendid exponent of true talent and pure soccer had risen above it all; the enduring image was that of Lionel Messi's two goals, and perhaps more poignantly his second solo slalom executed to perfection.
Barcelona set up a potential Champions League semifinal clash with Spanish rivals Real Madrid after ending the European hopes of Shakhtar Donetsk with a 1-0 victory on Tuesday.
Barcelona have maintained their eight-point lead at the top of La Liga with a 3-1 victory over bottom-placed Almeria at the Nou Camp.
The last time the U.S. played Argentina, in 2008, the result was proof that a 0-0 score line could still produce a thrilling soccer game. U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard stood on his head, and a huge crowd in the Meadowlands saw the Americans survive going toe-to-toe with supernova Lionel Messi and his talented Argentine teammates.
Lionel Messi returned to haunt Arsenal as his two goals helped Barcelona into the quarterfinals of the Champions League after a 3-1 win in Spain.
Lionel Messi scored the only goal of the game with 14 minutes remaining to give Barcelona a 1-0 win at Valencia on Wednesday and send them 10 points clear of Real Madrid at the top of the Spanish League.
Lionel Messi celebrated his second successive world player of the year award with a hat-trick as Spanish champions Barcelona crushed division two team Real Betis 5-0 in the first leg of their Copa del Rey quarterfinal on Wednesday night.
Lionel Messi was named World Player of the Year for the second straight year Monday, pipping Barcelona teammates Andres Iniesta and Xavi to the inaugural FIFA Ballon d'Or.
The shortlist of names for FIFA's top goal of 2010 looks like a who's-who of world football's biggest stars.
Spanish champions Barcelona will kick off 2011 without the services of world player of the year Lionel Messi and key defenders Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique.
After bathing in the cesspool of FIFA politics last week, I'll admit it: I wanted to hear a story that restored some credibility to the great global game of soccer. And wouldn't you know it, I found one, courtesy of Lionel Messi, FC Barcelona, an energetic Baltimore foundation and a 17-year-old high school senior from Suwanee, Ga., named Jordyn Farrell.
Pep Guardiola blew out his cheeks, exhaling a huge lung full of air, and rolled his eyes. He could barely believe anyone would be stupid enough to think otherwise.
Lionel Messi can chalk off another objective achieved in his young but already extraordinary career. His glorious goal in stoppage time Wednesday gave Argentina a 1-0 victory over Brazil in Doha, Qatar, his first win against the Seleção at the senior level.
Lionel Messi scored a superb late goal to give Argentina a 1-0 victory over South American rivals Brazil in a prestige friendly international in Qatar on Wednesday.
Who should win the 2010 FIFA Ballon d'Or for the best player of the year in world soccer?
Lionel Messi talking exclusively to CNN about Argentina and his expectations from the upcoming World Cup.
Lionel Messi's form with Barcelona has been sensational again this season, scoring 34 league goals to help the club retain the Spanish title, but the burning question is whether he can reproduce that on the biggest stage.
At the start of the La Liga season, Real Madrid new director general Jorge Valdano described it as a Hollywood blockbuster, and there was little doubt who was going to play the starring roles.
Lionel Messi scored his 33rd and 34th goals of the season as Barcelona crushed Valladolid 4-0 to retain their Spanish Primera Liga title by three points from Real Madrid, who were held 1-1 at Malaga on Sunday.
Lionel Messi netted a double as Barcelona moved ever closer to retaining the Spanish league title with a 4-1 win over Tenerife at the Nou Camp on Tuesday night.
Barcelona made a quick recovery from midweek European heartbreak with a 4-1 victory at Villarreal on Saturday night that put the Spanish champions four points clear of title rivals Real Madrid.
Barcelona took a giant stride towards retaining their Spanish league title with a 2-0 win over arch-rivals Real Madrid in Saturday's 'El Clasico' at the Santiago Bernabeu to go three points clear at the top of La Liga.
He was compared to a computer game machine by the man whose dreams of European glory he destroyed, but Lionel Messi's coach preferred to focus on his human qualities.
Lionel Messi produced a performance of stunning brilliance, scoring all four goals as holders Barcelona beat Arsenal 4-1 to reach the semifinals of the Champions League 6-3 on aggregate on Tuesday.
Lionel Messi has been hailed as the greatest soccer player the world has ever seen following his extraordinary exploits for European champions Barcelona.
Is the best form of defense a good offense? While Argentina's greatest concern ahead of the 2010 World Cup continues to be its vulnerable defense, head coach Diego Maradona is more than aware that if his team wants to be a force in South Africa, it needs to take full advantage of the abundance of talent it has up front.
Lionel Messi grabbed a brilliant hat-trick as Barcelona routed Tenerife 5-0 on Sunday to maintain their two-point advantage at the top in the Spain's La Liga over arch rivals Real Madrid.
England stars John Terry and Steven Gerrard speak to CNN after being named in the FIFPro World XI and talk La Liga and Lionel Messi.
Lionel Messi's coronation as the FIFA World Player of the Year has been praised by his fellow-professionals, as the Argentine playmaker was handed his award at a star-studded gala ceremony in Zurich, Switzerland.
Barcelona star Lionel Messi was named FIFA World Player of the Year in Zurich on Monday, capping a remarkable 2009 for the Argentina star.
Lionel Messi scored an extra-time winner as Barcelona came from behind to beat Estudiantes 2-1 in the Club World Cup final on Saturday to confirm the Spanish and European champions as the top team on the planet.
Barcelona forward Lionel Messi has been named the best player in Europe, becoming the first Argentine to win the prestigious Ballon d'Or award on Tuesday.
Barcelona are desperate to call on the services of Lionel Messi and Zlatan Ibrahimovic for Tuesday's vital Champions League group showdown with Inter Milan in the Camp Nou.
Holders Barcelona recorded their first Champions League win of the season as goals from Lionel Messi and substitute Pedro secured a comfortable 2-0 Group F victory over Dinamo Kiev.
European champions Barcelona hope to tie Argentina star Lionel Messi to a lucrative new contract.
One is the kind of athlete you might design in a lab: tall, lean and muscular, with a seemingly inexhaustible arsenal of skills. The other is a throwback, a scrappy little player whose abilities are more difficult to pin down because they border on the metaphysical. At 6'1" and 172 pounds, Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo is soccer's Magic Johnson: a big man with skills usually associated with smaller players. At 5'7" and 148 pounds, Barcelona's Lionel Messi looks more like somebody's kid brother and plays like Pete Maravich, with an otherworldly touch that allows him to do the unthinkable with the ball.
Lionel Messi is universally recognized as being one of football's greatest current players and the Argentine, who does not turn 22 until June, will have a captive world-wide audience watching his every move when he dons the famous red and blue Barcelona shirt for Wednesday's Champions League final against Manchester United.
Lionel Messi is ready to follow the example of fellow-superstar Kaka and resist any mega-money attempts to prise him away from Spanish giants Barcelona.
Argentina star Lionel Messi came off the bench to score twice as nine-man Barcelona recovered to beat Racing Santander 2-1 and move 12 points clear of arch-rivals Real Madrid at the top of the Spanish Primera.
After a couple of years with nothing to show, FC Barcelona has finally been transformed into the most feared club in Europe. The Catalan giants have been nothing short of extraordinary this season, and if their magnificent form continues, they could be on track for a rare triple.
Lionel Messi grabbed a late winner as Barcelona scored a 3-2 victory at bottom club Osasuna to maintain their runaway charge towards the Spanish Primera title.
Lionel Messi hit a hat-trick as Barcelona triumphed 3-1 in their Spanish Copa Del Rey last-16 first leg tie at 10-man Atletico Madrid on Tuesday.
Second half goals by Lionel Messi and substitute Seydou Keita saw Barcelona go three points clear in the Spanish Primera Liga after their ninth successive victory.
Gonzalo Rodriguez and Joseba Llorente scored second-half goals as Villarreal came from a goal down to beat Real Betis 2-1 in the Spanish Primera on Saturday.
Five thoughts after Argentina's gold-medal-winning 1-0 win over Nigeria in men's soccer:
Lionel Messi starred for Argentina in their opening 2-1 victory over the Ivory Coast at the Olympic Games on Thursday -- after receiving the go-ahead to play from his club side Barcelona.
Barcelona and Argentina are in a club versus country battle for the services of Lionel Messi after sport's highest court ruled in favor of the Spanish giants who do not want the striker to play in the Olympic football tournament.
A FIFA ruling on Wednesday has cleared the way for Argentina playmaker Lionel Messi to represent his country at the Beijing Olympics.
CNN's Pedro Pinto talks to FC Barcelona star Lionel Messi about life at the Nou camp.
Lionel Messi left the field in tears during Barcelona's 1-0 win over Celtic in the Champions League last week. His latest injury -- a torn thigh muscle -- was a major blow not only for Barça, which will be without its brightest talent for at least six weeks, but it also raised wider questions about Messi's long-term future.
Barcelona's Argentina striker Lionel Messi will be out of action for six weeks after tearing a muscle in his left leg during Tuesday night's 1-0 Champions League victory over Celtic.
A Lionel Messi double secured a 3-2 Champions League victory for Barcelona at Celtic to put the Catalan giants in the driving seat for the last-16 return leg at the Nou Camp in a fortnight.
Greatness may not be as random an occurrence as we think. Great players tend to be born in certain parts of the world. And great players tend to evolve thanks to a certain type of coaching.
Todos los jugadores profesionales, salvo los porteros, marcan un gran gol a lo largo de sus carreras. Los grandes delanteros, si tienen suerte, marcarán un gol que pase a la historia. La diferencia entre Leo Messi y los demás es que tiene toda su carrera por delante, pero ya ha marcado tres en 2007 que perdurarán como obras de arte y serán admirados en los museos del fútbol, como hoy admiramos a Leonardo da Vinci, de aquí a quinientos años.
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All professional soccer players, except perhaps for goalkeepers, score at least one great goal during their career. The good strikers, if they're lucky, will score one that goes down in history.
Barcelona edged closer to the last 16 of the Champions League after a comfortable 2-0 Group E victory over Rangers at the Nou Camp -- the Scottish side's first defeat in the competition.
Lionel Messi scored for the sixth game in a row as Barcelona defeated big-spending Atletico Madrid 3-0 to stay in touch with Primera Liga leaders Real Madrid.
When Barcelona signed Thierry Henry this summer, immediate questions were asked about how coach Frank Rijkaard could accommodate him in his star-studded forward line.
Lionel Messi scored two goals, including a spectacular solo effort, to help FC Barcelona beat Getafe 5-2 Wednesday in the first leg of the Copa del Rey semifinals.
Lionel Messi returned to the Barcelona squad after over three months on the sidelines when coach Frank Rijkaard named the Argentine forward in the 18-strong list for Sunday's match at home to Racing Santander.
Argentine forward Lionel Messi will need surgery on a foot injury sustained in Sunday's 3-1 Primera Liga win over Real Zaragoza that will sideline him for up to three months.
Forward Lionel Messi, who is recovering from a thigh muscle injury, does not expect to start Argentina's opening World Cup match against Ivory Coast.
Argentina forward Lionel Messi has been included in Barcelona's 22-man squad for the Champions League final against Arsenal in Paris despite not playing for more than two months.
Barcelona's teenage sensation Lionel Messi is backing himself to make a surprise appearance in the Champions League final against Arsenal in Paris on May 17.
Argentina | Midfielder
Group C | World ranking: 9
Barcelona forward Lionel Messi has flown back to his native Argentina to boost his recovery from a thigh injury that threatens his Champions League dream.
Barcelona forward Lionel Messi is likely to miss both legs of the Champions League semifinal against AC Milan because of a torn thigh muscle.
Barcelona forward Lionel Messi is a serious doubt for next week's Champions League semifinal, first leg against AC Milan after being ruled out of Friday's Primera Liga match against Villarreal.
Argentina forward Lionel Messi has been left out of Barcelona's squad to face Deportivo Coruna at home in the Primera Liga on Saturday.
Barcelona forward Lionel Messi will be sidelined for around 10 days after sustaining a leg muscle strain in Sunday's 3-1 home defeat by Atletico Madrid.
Argentina's Lionel Messi has been included in the Barcelona squad for their Champions League opener against Werder Bremen.
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