Month by month, goal by goal… The diary of Messi's extraordinary record-breaking year
21:27 GMT, 9 December 2012
He's done it! Lionel Messi needed just 25 minutes of Barcelona's match at Real Betis to surpass Gerd Muller's long-standing record for goalscoring in a calendar year.
The Argentine magician needed to reach the magic number of 86 strikes for club and country and he wasted little time in achieving it.
In this Sportsmail special, we take a look back at a wonderful year for the little wizard.
Record breaker! Messi celebrates scoring against Real Betis, on the night he beat Gerd Muller's 40-year-old goalscoring record
Goals for Barcelona – 7
With 27 club goals already under his belt in the first half of the season, Ballon D’Or winner Messi entered 2012 in irresistible form and officially the best player in the world. And he wasted little time in finding the net in the New Year, with a double against Osasuna in the Copa Del Rey.
Barcelona weren't exactly struggling to make an impact in the tie, but Messi was introduced for Pedro on the hour. The tempo was cranked up and up after his introduction and he scored first with a header after ghosting into the six yard box and then with a left-foot curler from just inside the box.
He scored five times in La Liga during the month as Barca kept snapping at the heels of Real Madrid at the top of La Liga, but didn’t manage to net in the two-legged Cup Clasico.
ACCOLADE! Messi collected the Ballon D'Or for the third consecutive year at the start of the year.
Officially the best: Lionel Messi started 2012 on a high after being voted the FIFA Ballon D'Or winner for the third consecutive year. Here, he parades the trophy before the Copa Del Rey match with Real Madrid at the Nou Camp
JANUARY GOALS AND APPEARANCES
4th – Two goals vs. Osasuna in Copa Del Rey (4-0)
8th – vs. Espanyol (1-1)
12th – vs. Osasuna in Copa Del Rey (2-1)
15th – Two goals vs. Real Betis (4-2)
18th – vs. Real Madrid in Copa Del Rey (2-1)
22nd – Three goals vs. Malaga (4-1)
25th – vs. Real Madrid in Copa Del Rey (2-2)
28th – vs. Villarreal (0-0)
Goals for Barcelona – 7 Goals for Argentina – 3 Running total – 17
Another prolific month, which saw ten goals for club and country. The highlights included a four-goal haul in a 5-1 win over Valencia and a hat-trick for Argentina in a friendly match against Switzerland.
His quartet against Valencia was masterful – first, he squeezed the ball in from a seemingly impossible angle to bring Barca level, then a couple of poacher's finishes delivered him a hat-trick. The best, however, was saved until last with a burst clear and delicious chip.
LANDMARK! The 5-1 win over Valencia was Messi's 200th La Liga appearance.
The match against Switzerland showed that Messi is equally adept in front of goal for his country as for his club. He created and finished his first goal, running diagonally towards the penalty area, exchanging passes, and then finding the bottom corner.
The second saw Messi drive at the heart of the Swiss defence, work a shooting position and chip in off the crossbar, with the third a perfect penalty.
Four-some! Messi celebrates one of his quartet of goals in the La Liga match against Valencia
FEBRUARY GOALS AND APPEARANCES
1st – vs. Valencia in Copa Del Rey (1-1)
4th – One goal vs. Real Sociedad (2-1)
8th – vs. Valencia in Copa Del Rey (2-0)
11th – vs. Osasuna (2-3)
14th – One goal vs. Bayer Leverkusen in Champions League second round, first leg (3-1)
19th – Four goals vs. Valencia (5-1)
26th – One goal vs. Atletico Madrid (2-1)
29th – Three goals vs. Switzerland (3-1)
Goals for Barcelona – 13 Running total – 30
Messi started March in magnificent style, scoring five goals in the second leg of Barcelona’s Champions League second round match with Bayer Leverkusen as part of a 7-1 rout.
Two of his goals were sumptuous chips which left the Bayer goalkeeper red-faced, while the last of his five was a great blast into the bottom corner from the edge of the area.
RECORD! The feat meant he was the first player to score five goals in a Champions League match since the tournament’s re-branding in 1992.
Five stars: Messi destroyed Bayer Leverkusen with five goals in the second leg of their Champions League meeting in March
It was a phenomenally prolific month in La Liga too, as Barcelona tries to keep pace with Real – he scored eight goals in just five matches and the only time he failed to hit the target was in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final in Milan.
MARCH GOALS AND APPEARANCES
7th – Five goals vs. Bayer Leverkusen in Champions League second round, second leg (7-1)
11th – Two goals vs. Racing Santander (2-0)
17th – One goal vs. Seville (2-0)
20th – Three goals vs. Granada (5-3)
24th – One goal vs. Real Mallorca (2-0)
28th – vs. AC Milan in the Champions League quarter-final, first leg (0-0)
31st – One goal vs. Athletic Bilbao (2-0)
Goals for Barcelona – 9 Running total – 39
He made amends for the blank in the first leg by scoring a double at the Nou Camp as Barcelona reached the last four 3-1 on aggregate.
His first was a testament to perseverance, initially stealing the ball to sprint clear on goal and then turning sharply to win a penalty, which he converted. The reasons for the second spot-kick were less clear but again Messi made no mistake.
RECORD! This took his Champions League tally to 14 goals in the season, enough to make him the competition’s top goalscorer for a fourth consecutive season.
Low point: Barcelona's hopes of retaining the Champions League ended in April when they were beaten 3-2 on aggregate by Chelsea
He didn’t, however, score in either leg against Chelsea, who dumped Barcelona out 3-2 on aggregate to reach the final with Bayern Munich.
As the league season reached crunch time, Messi netted seven goals but, importantly, he didn’t convert any chances in the 2-1 home defeat by Real which practically handed Jose Mourinho’s side the title on April 21.
APRIL GOALS AND APPEARANCES
3rd – Two goals vs. AC Milan in the Champions League quarter-final, second leg (3-1)
7th – Two goals vs. Real Zaragoza (4-1)
10th – One goal vs. Getafe (4-0)
14th – Two goals vs. Levante (2-1)
18th – vs. Chelsea in the Champions League semi-final, first leg (0-1)
21st – vs. Real Madrid (1-2)
24th – vs. Chelsea in the Champions League semi-final, second leg (2-2)
29th – Two goals vs. Rayo Vallecano (7-0)
Goals for Barcelona – 8 Running total – 47
The last month of the 2011-2012 saw another sackful of goals and records, but just one trophy to add to the 13 he already had in the Pep Guardiola era – the Copa Del Rey. Barcelona didn't do enough however to prevent Real Madrid winning the La Liga title.
RECORD! His hat-trick against Malaga on May 2
meant Messi surpassed Gerd Muller’s single season goalscoring record
from 1972-1973 with three matches left to play.
Muller scored 67 in that campaign for Bayern Munich, while Messi now had 68. In doing so, he became the highest goalscorer in a European season in history.
End of an era: Pep Guardiola left Barcelona in May, having won 14 honours in four years at the club
RECORD! This then became a world best when a remarkable four goals in the Catalan derby with Espanyol took his tally to 72 and leapfrogged Archie Stark, who scored 70 for Bethlehem Steel in the 1924-1925 American Soccer League.
He showed his set-piece prowess in this one, converting two penalties and a 25-yard free-kick.
TROPHY! His goal in the 3-0 Copa Del Rey final win over Athletic Bilbao helped deliver Barcelona the Cup for the 26th time.
TOTAL! In the 2011-2012 season, Messi managed 73 goals and 29 assists in all competitions. This included 50 goals in La Liga, making him the Golden Boot winner. He was also the league's second highest provider of assists with 16, one shy of Real Madrid's Mesut Ozil.
MAY GOALS AND APPEARANCES
2nd – Three goals vs. Malaga (4-1)
5th – Four goals vs. Espanyol (4-0)
12th – vs. Real Betis (2-2)
25th – One goal vs. Athletic Bilbao in the Copa Del Rey final (3-0)
Goals for Argentina – 4 Running total – 51
The club season may have finished but Messi was still in the goalscoring groove for Argentina – and June also brought great personal news.
BABY! When he scored in the 4-0 World Cup qualifying win over Ecuador, his 23 rd goal for Argentina, he celebrated by placing the ball up his shirt, suggesting his girlfriend Antonella Roccuzzo was pregnant.
She later confirmed the news on Twitter.
International class: June was a month in which Messi showed his class for Argentina
A week later, Messi's season ended in trademark superlative style with a hat-trick in a friendly thriller with Brazil, capped with an outstanding curling shot into the top corner.
JUNE GOALS AND APPEARANCES
2nd – One goal vs. Ecuador in World Cup qualifier (4-0)
9th – Three goals vs. Brazil (4-3)
Goals for Barcelona – 6 Goals for Argentina – 1 Running total – 58
If anyone thought Messi's predatory instincts had been dulled by a couple of months off, they were very much mistaken.
He started the 2012-2013 season in the same red hot form as before, scoring two against Real Sociedad on the opening weekend, two at Osasuna in the second game and another two across the legs of the Super Cup contest with Real Madrid.
Against Sociedad, he wasted little time getting started afresh, scoring on 11 and 16 minutes, but against Osasuna, he was required to score twice late on to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
Barca brothers: Messi celebrates with Alexis Sanchez after scoring against Real Madrid in the Super Cup, first leg at the Nou Camp
RECORD! Messi's goal in a losing cause in the Super Cup second leg with Real made him Barcelona's all-time top scorer in Clasico matches. In the overall contest, he is behind only Alfredo Di Stefano.
AUGUST GOALS AND APPEARANCES
15th – One goal vs. Germany (3-1)
19th – Two goals vs. Real Sociedad (5-1)
23rd – One goal vs. Real Madrid in the Super Cup (3-2)
26th – Two goals vs. Osasuna (2-1)
29th – One goal vs. Real Madrid in the Super Cup (1-2)
Goals for Barcelona – 4 Goals for Argentina – 1 Running total – 63
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From Russia with Love: Messi scored twice against Spartak Moscow on matchday one of the Champions league group stage
SEPTEMBER GOALS AND APPEARANCES
2nd – vs. Valencia (1-0)
8th – One goal vs. Paraguay in World Cup qualifier (3-1)
12th – vs. Peru in World Cup qualifier (1-1)
15th – Two goals vs. Getafe (4-1)
19th – Two goals vs. Spartak Moscow in the Champions League (3-2)
22nd – vs. Granada (2-0)
29th – vs. Seville (3-2)
Goals for Barcelona – 7 Goals for Argentina – 3 Running total – 73
October was a barnstorming month for Messi, who scored seven goals for his club and three for his country, and was the crucial difference in some thrilling games.
On the 7th, the sixth Clasico of the year, ended in a personal duel between Messi and his nemesis Cristiano Ronaldo. Honours finished even, with both superstars scoring twice in a 2-2 draw.
Nemesis: Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have been engaged in a personal duel to be the best player in the world all year
Biggest stage: Messi scored twice in the sixth El Clasico of the year, as Barcelona and Real drew 2-2 in La Liga at the Nou Camp
Then, after his three strikes against Uruguay and Chile helped Argentina a little further along the path to Brazil 2014, he shrugged off the jetlag to bag a hat-trick in a 5-4 rollercoaster with Deportivo.
Barcelona were 3-0 and cruising at the Riazor, but Deportivo fought back to within one goal. Messi then took control, his goals negating the dismissal of Javier Mascherano and ultimately proving the difference.
OCTOBER GOALS AND APPEARANCES
2nd – vs. Benfica in the Champions League group stage (2-0)
7th – Two goals vs. Real Madrid (2-2)
13th – Two goals vs. Uruguay in World Cup qualifier (3-0)
17th – One goal vs. Chile in World Cup qualifier (2-1)
20th – Three goals vs. Deportivo La Coruna (5-4)
23rd – vs. Celtic in the Champions League group stage (2-1)
27th – Two goals vs. Rayo Vallecano (5-0)
Goals for Barcelona – 9 Running total – 82
BABY! The month started with another moment of joy for Messi, presumably far greater than any of his goals, as his girlfriend gave birth to baby Thiago on November 2.
And Leo clearly wasn't suffering from too much lost sleep as he continued to bang in the goals at a rate of knots.
RECORD! On the 11th, his double against Real Mallorca took him past Pele's long-standing benchmark of 75 goals in a calendar year set in 1958.
The goals came two-by-two for the rest of the month as he closed in on Muller's world record of 85 goals within 12 months.
NOVEMBER GOALS AND APPEARANCES
3rd – vs. Celta Vigo (3-1)
7th – One goal vs. Celtic in the Champions League (1-2)
11th – Two goals vs. Real Mallorca (4-2)
14th – vs. Saudi Arabia (0-0)
17th – Two goals vs. Real Zaragoza (3-1)
20th – Two goals vs. Spartak Moscow in the Champions League (3-0)
25th – Two goals vs. Levante (4-0)
Goals for Barcelona – 4 Running total – 86
So, with 82 goals in the calendar year and Muller's record tantalisingly close, Messi made the perfect start to December with another double in the 5-1 home win over Bilbao on Saturday.
RECORD! His two goals also drew Messi level with Cesar Rodriguez as Barcelona's all-time leading league goalscorer.
Closer and closer: Messi moved to within one of Gerd Muller's record with two goals in the 5-1 win over Athletic Bilbao at the weekend
STAT ATTACK! Messi has 21 La Liga goals already this season, which would have been enough to give him the Golden Boot in 2001/2002 (Tristan, 21), 1990/1991 (Butragueno, 19) and 1984/1985 (Hugo Sanchez, 19). It also means he has personally outscored 16 of the 19 La Liga teams this season.
RECORDS! His goals against Real Betis on December 9 meant Messi surpassed Gerd Muller's record for goals in a calendar year and he also became Barcelona's leading all-time goalscorer in La Liga, moving ahead of Cesar Rodriguez.
DECEMBER GOALS AND APPEARANCES
1st – Two goals vs. Athletic Bilbao (5-1)
9th – Two goals vs. Real Betis
THE MAN MESSI HAS BEATEN
Gerd Muller scored 85 goals in 60 matches for Bayern Munich and West Germany in 1972 – a record for the highest number of goals scored in a calendar year that has stood for 40 years.
This is how Muller's record breaks down:
Bundesliga: 42 in 34 games
European Cup: 10 in 4
Cup Winners Cup: 1 in 2
DfB Pokal: 7 in 6
DfB Ligapokal: 12 in 5
Euro 72: 5 in 4
Friendlies: 8 in 3
Best scoring run: 16 in 8
Longest drought: 3 games
Swarmed: West Germany's Gerd Muller trying to find a way through the Holland defence during the 1974 World Cup final