Lionel Messi scored his 72nd, 73rd, and 74th UEFA Champions League goals Tuesday for Barcelona against dwarf opponent, Cyprus club APOEL Nicosia. His aggregate feat passes Real Madrid legend Raúl in the process for all-time leading scorer in Champions League history. Not bad for a reportedly frustrated player supposedly at the twilight of his team’s world-beating reign.
That’s two globally significant records conquered in 72 hours. Over the weekend, Messi became the leading scorer in Spain’s La Liga with a separate hat-trick. He’s also the all the all-time leading scorer in El Clásico (the rivalry game between Real Madrid and Barcelona), as well as his historic club’s all-time leading scorer.
The Argentine superstar is only 27, and has made Barcelona a perpetual mainstay in the prestigious European club competition. However, circumstantial rival Cristiano Ronaldo is hot on Messi’s heels with 70 goals scored in the Champions League. It’ll ultimately come down to which player’s club—Real Madrid or Barcelona—can carve out more playing time in the Champions League over the next five years. If Messi is indeed ready to leave Barcelona as has been reported, that could pave the way for Ronaldo to create some distance as Messi rebuilds elsewhere.
But there’s little doubt which giant is the better overall player, and Messi’s resume may already make him the greatest ever (413 goals, 163 assists, 27 hat-tricks, four Ballon d’Ors, 23 major trophies won). Had Argentina edged out Germany for the World Cup back in Brazil this summer, the discussion would likely be over.
Photo via Leandro Neumann Cluffo/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)