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Lionel Messi: Champions League facts you should know

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Messi has scored 113 goals in 11,289 minutes of European football; that’s a goal roughly every 99 minutes and 54 seconds.

Here are more UEFA Champions League facts you should know:

• The Argentinian has faced 39 different clubs in Europe (from 16 countries), failing to score against six: Atlético Madrid, Benfica, Internazionale Milano, Liverpool, Rubin Kazan and Udinese.

• Atlético are the side Messi has gone longest without scoring against: 360 minutes in UEFA competition. If Liverpool manage to keep the UEFA Champions League’s ten-goal leading scorer quiet for both legs, they will join the Colchoneros atop that particular list.

• The UEFA Champions League semi-final, however, offers the Barça skipper a chance to strike Liverpool off that list completely; then aged 19, Messi played 90 minutes in both legs of the holders’ last-16 meeting with the Merseysiders in 2006/07, but failed to find the net, John Arne Riise stifling his influence in the first leg at the Camp Nou and Álvaro Arbeloa following suit at Anfield.

• Chelsea are the side Messi has played the most minutes against (835 minutes across ten matches); he did not score in his first 730 minutes against the Blues, but struck three times in two games against them in 2017/18.

• 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.

• Should Liverpool keep Messi quiet in the first leg, then Alisson Becker will take that honor from compatriot Júlio César once the Anfield second leg kicks off. When at Roma last season, the Brazilian stopper did not concede against Messi in either leg of the sides’ quarter-final.

• Messi 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.

• The Blaugrana man’s most amenable opponents may have been 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.

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 102m 8s), France (128m), Italy (151m 10s) and Spain (187m 30s).

Liverpool’s defensive prowess – and the presence of Virgil van Dijk – may give Jürgen Klopp’s side cause for confidence ahead of this semi-final, but the probability is that Messi will find the net at some point over the two legs: the Barça No10 averages just under a goal a game against English opposition.

Messi may relish Portuguese rearguards least of all; in 478 minutes against Liga teams, he has scored just twice – a goal every 239 minutes.

Messi is relatively slow to get started after the whistle; his least prolific scoring periods are at the start of either half. By contrast, he seems to hit something of a critical goal-scoring velocity in the final minutes, 14 goals between the 86th minute and the final whistle.

Messi has scored 12 penalties in UEFA competition but failed to find the target with three; two saved (v Panathinaikos, September 2010, and v Manchester City, February 2015) and one against the crossbar (v Chelsea, April 2012).

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