When Lionel Messi's free kick looped over Espanyol's wall and caressed into the back of the net on Sunday it was the seventh time he'd scored such a goal this season.
It's been an interesting season for the undisputed best player in the world. With the emergence of Luis Suarez as the team's leading goal threat, Messi has become more of a provider. He's become the team's primary set piece taker and is usually responsible for most of the direct free kick opportunities. Some absolutely beautiful goals have come as a result this season.
However, Messi is not satisfied with his seven free kick goals so far this season. He told ESPN that he's practicing every day to get better and perfect his technique.
"I've been doing extra free kick training for a while now. I'm practicing every time I can."
He also has a message for any of the doubters out there that believe his free kick goals are a product of luck or some other factors. Messi proclaims that the years and years of practice have given him some insight on how to trick goalkeepers and beat them.
"Yes, the truth is that we train for this; we work on how to move so that the ball goes to the right place and also you learn things over the course of your career."
The trick to being consistent, he says, is to keep the goalkeeper guessing and never be predictable.
"Yes. To be honest, I like to hit the ball over the players' wall but from time to time I like to mix it up a little bit so that the goalkeeper doesn't know where I'm going and I want to keep him confused until I kick. I think for that reason I like to keep the goalkeeper in doubt."
-Lionel Messi; Source: ESPN
It's hard to imagine Messi getting anymore precise and deadly from his set piece opportunities but we won't put it past him to accomplish his goal. As he gets older he'll have to adjust and find new ways to score goals. Perhaps becoming a free kick specialist is his answer to solving that future problem.