Goals, goals and more goals; whenever Barcelona took to the field last season, you could be sure that goals would follow – 224 of them to be exact, at an amazing rate of 3.7 goals per match. Admittedly, a rather frightening 66 of that 224 were scored at the wrong end, but this post isn’t concerned with those goals, oh no, this post is more of a celebration of the 158 goals that were scored at the "right" end, or at least the ones nominated for this award by the Barça Blaugranes community.
Over the course of the season, Barcelona didn’t just set a new La Liga points record, they also set a new record for away goals scored in a single season – and they extended their spectacular goal-scoring streak to a staggering 42 La Liga matches. In fact, all throughout last season there was just one match that finished goalless, a meaningless UEFA Champions League match with SL Benfica that finished 0-0 at the Camp Nou. But of all the goals that Barcelona scored last season, just which ones will live on in the memory? Is there one individual effort which stands above the rest? Here are the nominees for the Best Individual Goal Award:
Lionel Messi vs Athletic Bilbao (27th April 2013) – nominated by dlapa, Uncharted_Almo, footballfordoze, footblob, PlayerFan, Kazzem, Som-i-Serem, BenX6, Luis Mazariegos, fcb123, FCB4Ever and Bostjan Cernensek
Receiving a huge twelve nominations, it’s clear that Lionel Messi’s equalising goal, scored against Athletic Bilbao on the 27th April 2013, is arguably the goal of the season, at least from a Blaugrana perspective. And it’s hard to argue against that; it simply had everything. Embarking on one of his trademark runs (which are becoming rarer by the season), Messi weaved past a number of helpless Basque defenders, stunning the San Mames crowd into silence – although thankfully, the goal didn’t quite have the same effect on legendary commentator Ray Hudson.
Lionel Messi vs Real Madrid (7th October 2012) – nominated by Al Benson
Doing my best to decipher a rather cryptic nomination from our resident moderator, Al Benson, I eventually settled on Lionel Messi’s jaw-dropping free-kick against Real Madrid from October. After all, what other goal could Al be referring to when he said "that Messi free-kick against the team with the players"? As it turned out, I was spoilt for choice; Messi scored a sumptuous free-kick against Real Betis in May, the free-kick shown above in the first La Liga Clasico and another free-kick in the Supercopa second-leg – perhaps Al wanted to collectively nominate all of Messi’s free-kicks for their brilliance?
Lionel Messi vs AC Milan (12th March 2013) – nominated by IamisFCB
Big games attract big performances from great players; and Barcelona’s UEFA Champions League clash with AC Milan was no different. As expected, Argentine superstar Lionel Messi was pulling the strings with a typically unstoppable showing; a fact underlined by his opening goal. Exchanging a pass with Xavi despite heavy pressure from the Milan defense, Messi received the return pass in very little space, seemingly not enough for a clear chance at goal. Yet, someway, somehow, Messi found a way to get his shot through the defense – and into the back of the net. The remuntada was well and truly on.
With this goal against Real Betis (which happened to be his second of the match), Lionel Messi surpassed Gerd Müller’s long-standing record for goals scored in a single calendar year. Way back in 1972, Müller found the back of the net 85 times, but Messi went one better (or technically, five better by the actual end of the year) with this typically assured finish.
Lionel Messi vs Malaga CF (16th January 2013) – nominated by craig00000
Presented with his fourth consecutive Ballon d’Or prior to the start of this Copa del Rey tie with Malaga, Lionel Messi displayed once again why he is regarded as one of the all-time greats with this superlative individual effort, which cancelled out Manuel Iturra’s opportunistic opener. Racing away down the right touchline, Messi skipped past one defender, before losing possession – and seemingly wasting any slim chance he had at a shot on goal. However, Messi was not to be denied, as he swiftly recovered the ball before cutting into the Malaga penalty area and slotting the ball past Carlos Kameni to tie the scores at 1-1.
After an unconvincing 2-1 win over Osasuna in Jornada Two, Tito Vilanova’s side was under pressure to make it three wins from three when Valencia travelled to the Camp Nou in Jornada Three. For a while at least, it appeared as though it might turn out to be a frustrating night for Barcelona; Messi’s shots were being blocked and no-one could find a way through the disciplined Valencia defense. No-one except Adriano. Unleashing a thunderbolt with his right boot, Adriano blasted Barcelona into the lead, and secured the three points with this wonder strike.
Adriano received a well-deserved nomination for the Most Improved Player Award this season, and it’s easy to see why when he scored goals like this. Barcelona had fallen behind to a goal from Falcao, and looked out of sorts in front of the Camp Nou crowd against second-place Atletico Madrid. It was arguably the most important game of the season – and no-one was producing the goods, until Adriano kicked the start the offense with this epic left-footed strike.