Bad injuries in the 2005/06 and 2007/08 seasons did not allow Messi to get the best out of the Round of 16. Blows against Chelsea and Celtic respectively restricted the player’s contributions to his team’s operation in the knockout phase of the Champions League.
Nonetheless, the Guardiola era gave the Argentine a new path to follow; one that would let him showcase his abilities and rip rewards without setbacks. In the next lines, we look at 10 moments in which La Pulga dazzled in the Champions League’s Round of 16.
1) Messi vs Celtic (18’) – 20/2/2008
After Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink daringly stole the lead on 16 minutes at Celtic Park through a powerful header, Lionel Messi ensured his side was back on level terms 2 minutes later – netting his very first goal in the UEFA Champions League’s last 16.
2) Messi vs Celtic (79’) – 20/2/2008
Although two away goals seemed positive for FC Barcelona at Celtic Park, the Argentine talisman went the extra mile, snatching his second goal of the night to give his side a precious 3-2 victory ahead of the return leg.
3) Messi vs Lyon (40’) – 11/3/2009
In a humiliating 5-2 victory over French giants Lyon, Barcelona’s Messi brilliantly partnered with Samuel Eto’o upfront before calmly slotting the ball home five minutes before the break. Typical of the No.10 ace…
4) Messi vs VfB Stuttgart (13’) – 17/3/2010
In an unforgettable moment that caused the Camp Nou to erupt in excitement, the then-FIFA Player of the Year collected a pass from Yaya Toure and approached the danger zone before unleashing a blistering shot that flew into the top corner of the Stuttgart net. This appeared to be just what the Catalans needed to clinch the opener in the first-leg encounter of their Round of 16 matchup.
5) Messi vs VfB Stuttgart (60’) – 17/3/2010
It was a clever flick from Dani Alves that enabled Lionel Messi to beat Lehmann with an accurate left-footed shot from 20 yards out. This goal turned out to be his fourth of his 2009/10 Champions League campaign.
6) Messi vs Arsenal (45 + 3’) – 8/3/2011
A backheel in defense is always a dangerous thing to do. Unfortunately, then-Arsenal player Cesc Fabregas got the worst consequences from this act, when his bad move gave the ball to Iniesta, who placed it unto Messi. Eventually, the skilled forward had no difficulties scoring the opener after remarkably getting past Almunia.
7) Messi vs Arsenal (71’) – 8/3/2011
Scoring in a controversial match under the pressure of away fans can be frustrating. But for Messi, all that mattered in the second half of his contest against the Gunners was his team’s success and his personal tally. A well taken penalty sealed Barcelona’s place in the q8uarterfinals.
8) Messi vs Bayer Leverkusen (25’) – 7/3/2012
Midway through the first half, a good ball over the defense from Xavi set up Messi, who scored with the highest level of confidence in front of the entertained home crowd. This goal in fact marked the beginning of what was in the end a historic achievement.
9) Messi vs Bayer Leverkusen (49’) 7/3/2012
In that Round of 16 match at the Camp Nou, Xavi again found Messi on the attack thanks to an inch-perfect lofted pass. With not much pressure on him, the Ballon d’Or winner saw no danger in chipping the ball past Bernd Leno to earn his hat-trick on 49 minutes.
10) Messi vs Bayer Leverkusen (84’) – 7/3/2012
History books were rewritten in that same encounter, when Messi became the first player to score 5 goals in a single Champions League match. The Argentinian player snatched that attainment after a nice left-footed shot six minutes from time.