FC Barcelona 2011/12 Season in Review: Lionel Messi

BARCELONA, SPAIN - MARCH 07: Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona looks on prior to the UEFA Champions League round of 16 second leg match between FC Barcelona and Bayern 04 Leverkusen at Camp Nou on March 7, 2012 in Barcelona, Spain. FC Barcelona won 7-1. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Report: Can anything more be said that hasn't been said before about Lionel Messi? Probably not but I still have to try to review yet another record breaking season by the little Argentine.

Even a player that appears to play every game in every season can set a career high in appearances. Messi featured in an absolutely amazing 60 games for Barcelona in the season (and he also added ten appearances with the Argentinian national team) and it appeared that in every single game he played he set a new record. While that last statement is an exaggeration it is not by much.

At the very beginning of the season you knew this season was going to be something special as in the 5-4 aggregate win over Real Madrid in the Supercopa de España Messi scored three goals and assisted on the other two and then went on to score the game winner in the UEFA Super Cup.

Soon after the La Liga season began Messi surpassed László Kubala to become Barça's second highest scorer in official competitions. But that milestone simply marked the begging of the chase for first place and César Rodríguez - a record Messi would break just months later. Messi also scored in all six completions he appeared in before the calendar said 2012.

He scored more goals than anybody ever did in European football (73) and scored more league goals than anybody in the history of all European League competitions (50). Messi broke the record for most goals in a single Champions League season (14) and became the only player to ever score five goals in Europe's most important competition. Messi also equaled Barça records for scoring in consecutive games (10) and scoring in consecutive away games (7). I could go on and on, citing records and achievements he set in the season but you should just click on the link here and be amazed at everything that he achieved.

Despite everything Messi gave for the team last season there were a few occasions when he appeared tired and not playing at his extremely high standards. He appeared to be coasting in a deeper position and not work as hard as he does almost every other game. But that being said, even in those he was still probably Barcelona's best player on the pitch.

Without Messi's heroics Barcelona probably wouldn't have won a single competition (except maybe the Club World Cup and UEFA Super Cup) which is somewhat discouraging for a team with so many world-class players. But as long as La Pulga is playing the way he is playing nobody is really complaining - but surely Messi would appreciate some help.

Sam Cooper's View: How do you describe a season like Messi's? Quite simply you describe it as record breaking. Leo has every record going. Barcelona's top scorer in official matches, highest number of goals scored in a single Champions League match, the fourth player to win three Ballon d'Ors and the second player to win three in a row, a Liga record of 50 goals and an unmatched 73 goals in all club competitions in one season.

Leo is a wonder and he is only 25. The Argentine is well on his way to becoming the greatest player to ever grace the field, only international success eludes him, and his last season was his greatest. Top Liga scorer, second highest number of Liga assists and top scorer in the Champions League. "Don't write about him, don't try to describe him," Guardiola said, "watch him." Messi will continue to break records and continue to make Cristiano Ronaldo curse his luck to be playing in the same era as the Argentine wonder-kid.

My hopes for next season, Messi breaks Paulino Alcántara's record of 369 goals in all games. Leo is 94 goals away and who is brave enough to bet against him?

Moment of the Season: It is absolutely impossible to try to pick one moment from Messi's season. His whole season was an entire moment and it wouldn't be fair to him and the fans to pick just one. I mean nobody in the history of football has ever had a season like this - and it's a long history (well, Pele will probably say he did but that's a completely different story - and continent for that matter). So here you have a video of his 73 goals and 28 assists.

Lionel Messi - All 73 Goals and 28 Assists ( 2011/2012 ) (via Kortmanovicic)

Stats:

Appearances 60
Games started 57
Started on the bench 3
Substitute in 3
Substitute out 0
Minutes played 5458
Goals scored 73
Assists 28
Shots 317
Shots on goal 159
Fouls committed 52
Fouls suffered 134
Yellow cards 9
Red cards 0

Record with Lionel Messi in the starting lineup: 42-11-4

2012/13 Outlook: Can we even ask Messi to improve next season? Is it even possible for a human being to post better numbers than he did? Well, if it is Messi is the human being that can make it happen. Once again he will be on the pitch for almost every game and every game he will be giving his all. But whatever number of goals Messi scores and creates he will be absolutely vital for any (potential) success (or failure?) Barça will have.

Next Up: Alexis Sanchez

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