Lionel Messi enjoyed an incredible career at Barcelona and if there was one game guaranteed to bring the best out of him it was El Clasico.
The 35-year-old made his first appearance against Real Madrid in 2005 and ended up with 26 goals and 14 assists against them in all competitions.
Messi became Madrid’s arch-rival over the years and we’ve looked back at seven of his best moments in this fixture.
Messi was only 19 years old when he played in his first-ever El Clasico at Camp Nou, but he announced himself to the world with a stunning performance.
Madrid took the lead three times during the game, only for the teenager to peg them back all three times and secure a 3-3 draw.
That was Messi’s first senior hat trick, and he has been a thorn in Madrid’s side ever since.
📆 10 March 2007: 𝐀 𝐃𝐚𝐭𝐞 𝐓𝐨 𝐁𝐞 𝐑𝐞𝐦𝐞𝐦𝐛𝐞𝐫𝐞𝐝#OnThisDay Messi scored his first #LaLiga hat-trick in #ElClasico! 👽🎩 pic.twitter.com/XRIyWga3r8
— LaLiga English (@LaLigaEN) March 11, 2020
The La Liga title was at stake when Barcelona travelled to the Bernabeu at the end of the 2008-09 season.
Pep Guardiola famously deployed Messi as a false nine and it proved to be a masterstroke as the Argentine constantly dragged the centre-backs out of position.
Messi set up Thierry Henry for his side’s first, then scored their third and fifth goals on the way to an incredible 6-2 win in Madrid’s backyard.
Barca went on to win the treble that season while Madrid were left in tatters and went trophyless.
Messi may be an incredible goalscorer, but he doesn’t always have to find the back of the net to make an impact.
Jose Mourinho had enjoyed the greatest start of any coach in Real Madrid’s history after taking charge in 2010, but his first El Clasico would be his toughest challenge.
Messi was the target of some cynical Real tactics, but he was still able to dictate the game and wreak havoc from his free role.
Barcelona were 2-0 up at half-time before Messi set up two David Villa goals and Jeffran made it 5-0 in injury time.
🔙 On this day, 8⃣ years ago…
FC Barcelona 5-0 Real Madrid
Watch more Barça videos on @Dugout 👉 https://t.co/fpeGcbxJJ9 pic.twitter.com/gfd7ytUs6k
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) November 29, 2018
Since Messi’s debut in 2003, Real Madrid and Barcelona have only met each other once in the Champions League and that came in 2010-11 semi-finals.
In the first leg at the Bernabeu, Mourinho’s side were content to sit back and frustrate their visitors and the plan seemed to be working.
However, Messi eventually broke the deadlock in the 76th minute when he converted Ibrahim Afellay’s excellent cross from close range.
The Argentine forward then picked up the ball midway inside the Real half, skipped past Lassana Diarra, Raul Albiol and Marcelo before slotting it past Iker Casillas.
They played out a 1-1 draw in the second leg as Barca progressed to the final and beat Manchester United 3-1 at Wembley.
📆 OTD in 2011…
Lionel Messi picked up the ball in the middle of the Bernabeu and bamboozled his way through Real Madrid’s defence 🤩
The goal has been voted the third best in Barcelona’s history 👏 pic.twitter.com/ruyUezQsPe
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 27, 2019
After scoring 53 goals in 2010-11, Messi picked up from where he left off and started the 2011-12 season in excellent form against Barcelona in the Spanish Supercopa.
Having got an assist and a goal in the first leg at the Bernabeu, Messi took things up another level in the second leg at the Camp Nou.
He set up Andres Iniesta’s opener before scoring two goals of his own, including a dramatic 88th-minute winner to make it 3-2 on the night and 5-4 on aggregate.
🔵🔴 Barça 🆚 R. Madrid ⚪
📆 17 de agosto de 2011
🏆 A #Messi la #Supercopa no se le da mal… pic.twitter.com/NThSrYUkXO
— Diario SPORT (@sport) January 6, 2020
The El Clasico at the Bernabeu towards the end of the 2013-14 season was one of the best games between these two sides in recent memory.
Messi stepped up with an incredible virtuoso display, and he was directly involved in all of Barcelona’s goals as they won 4-3.
The forward slotted an excellent through ball into Iniesta’s path and the midfielder fired into the top corner after just seven minutes.
Karim Benzema’s quickfire double turned the game around before Messi cut inside the area to fire the visitors level just before the break.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s penalty restored Madrid’s lead, but Sergio Ramos was shown a straight red card and Messi won the game with two penalties of his own.
#OnThisDay 2014 | Seven years ago today, Leo #Messi:
☑️ Scored a hat trick against Real Madrid
☑️ Led Barça to a thrilling 4-3 win at the Bernabéu
☑️ Became the all-time leading scorer in the history of #ElClásico
A spectacular day, even by Leo #Messi‘s standards. pic.twitter.com/jjc2zKnVsE
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) March 23, 2021
The league title was on the line once again at the Bernabeu and Messi scored a superb individual goal to make it 1-1 after Casemiro had given Madrid the lead.
Ivan Rakitic put the visitors in front in the second half, but that lead only lasted a few minutes as substitute James Rodriguez thought he had earned Madrid a point late on.
With the game tied at 2-2 in injury time, Messi fired in from the edge of the area to win it for Barcelona and send them top of La Liga.
He then celebrated his 500th Barcelona goal by taking off his shirt and holding it out in front of the Madrid fans.
#ElClasico: 🔟 days to go
Beautiful last-minute winner. ✅
Devastated home fans and players. ✅
Iconic celebration. ✅
An unforgettable El Clasico and #Messi, moment. #PureFootball pic.twitter.com/TgtiFMjCp2
— ELEVEN Football (@ElevenSportsFB) October 18, 2018
READ MORE: The last five players to score a hat-trick in El Clasico: Messi, Lineker…
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