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Mia San Mia (We Are Who We Are)

Is Messi a choker?

messi-sadI recently had a (heated) debate with some friends on whether Messi manages to deliver or not in the most important matches he plays in every season. So it was time to hook up some statistics together to shed some light on it.

Season by season, I wanted to see how Messi did in the last round of Champions League he played in, and also for any international tournaments he played in. In some cases, his team progressed to the next stage but Messi no longer played in the competition. In other cases, his team was eliminated from the competition. The round in which he was eliminated in is therefore the most important round he played in.

EDIT: A number of different people asked me why I left out specific matches. The simple answer is: I didn’t. Rather, it’s Messi’s defendants trying to include matches he played in previous Champions League rounds. I consistently took the matches he played in the last round of that season. To these Messi defendants, I point out the difference between him and Ronaldo. In the last two Champions League eliminations that Real Madrid suffered, Ronaldo scored 3 goals. It was the rest of his teammates that let Ronaldo down by not scoring enough (or defending well enough). You can’t really say the same thing about Messi: the harsh truth is that whenever Barcelona and Argentina were eliminated, Messi had let down his team by not scoring in either leg.

So here are the statistics:

# Season Competition Opponent Messi goals Team goals Opponent goals
1 2005/06 Champions League Chelsea 0 2 1
2 2005/06 Champions League Chelsea 0 1 1
3 2005/06 World Cup Mexico 0 2 1
4 2006/07 Champions League Liverpool 0 1 2
5 2006/07 Champions League Liverpool 0 1 0
6 2006/07 Copa America Brazil 0 0 3
7 2007/08 Champions League Man United 0 0 0
8 2007/08 Champions League Man United 0 0 1
9 2008/09 Champions League Man United 1 2 0
10 2009/10 Champions League Inter Milan 0 1 3
11 2009/10 Champions League Inter Milan 0 1 0
12 2009/10 World Cup Germany 0 0 4
13 2010/11 Champions League Man United 1 3 0
14 2010/11 Copa America Uruguay 0 1 1
15 2011/12 Champions League Chelsea 0 0 1
16 2011/12 Champions League Chelsea 0* 2 2
17 2012/13 Champions League FC Bayern 0 0 4
Total 2 17 24

* missed a penalty in this match

I did not have time to calculate Messi’s average goal-per-match, nor the percentage scored of his teams’ goals (when he plays). But in both cases in these stats, which are a collection of the most important matches he played in season by season, he scored in 2 out of 17 matches. Coincidentally, in these 17 matches his teams also scored 17 goals for an average of one goal per match. This means that Messi scored 2 out of his teams’ 17 goals in these 17 matches.

I don’t know how it sounds to you, but to me it sounds way below his average. One could argue that in most cases in these matches, his team played badly so it is a bit hard to base the goalscoring stats on these matches. However, in this case I am not sure it applies, given that he generally scores a good portion of his teams’ goals and it seems his goals were the ones lacking in many of these matches. The only matches he scored in were finals against Manchester United. In one year, Barcelona won 2-0, in the other they won 3-0, so it seems that neither of his two goals were critical to the final result as Barcelona would have won anyway.

So, given these stats, what do you think: is Messi a choker, or not? Leave us a comment at the bottom of the page.

Messi seemed hungry in Munich, but apparently not for goals.

Messi seemed hungry in Munich, but apparently not for goals.

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  • AvatarX says:


    Nice article as always.

    Personally I wouldn’t bet in him of scoring many goals in the knock-out rounds in WC 2014.

    Note: Very funny pic in the end 😛

    • MUTU says:


      Well, he has an average of 0.5 goals per World Cup. It would be hard not to imagine him improving this average. As long as he doesn’t score against Germany, I’m fine.

  • MUTU says:


    A number of different people asked me why I left out specific matches. The simple answer is: I didn’t. Rather, it’s Messi’s defendants trying to include matches he played in previous Champions League rounds. I consistently took the matches he played in the last round of that season. To these Messi defendants, I point out the difference between him and Ronaldo. In the last two Champions League eliminations that Real Madrid suffered, Ronaldo scored 3 goals. It was the rest of his teammates that let Ronaldo down by not scoring enough (or defending well enough). You can’t really say the same thing about Messi: the harsh truth is that whenever Barcelona and Argentina were eliminated, Messi had let down his team by not scoring in either leg.

  • MUTU says:


    New season, same story as Messi chokes again in the most important Champions League round of 2013/14, failing to score in 180 minutes against Atletico Madrid.