The career of Lionel Messi will not be defined by one moment, one game, one trophy. How could it?
The Argentine has been a human highlight reel since the day he first donned “Messi 30” in a competitive game as an undersized and over talented 17-year-old.
Messi has won ten La Liga titles, four Champions League and six Copa Del Rey’s at Barcelona. He’s won six Ballon D’Ors, six European Golden Shoes and eight La Liga Player of the Year awards.
The 32-year old has scored a record-breaking 438 goals in La Liga, 114 goals in the Champions League and managed 91 goals in one year back in 2012.
You get the idea.
But one game and, in particular, one moment, that epitomised the sheer ridiculousness of Lionel Messi’s talent came on this day in 2015 as Barcelona met Bayern Munich in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final.
Going into the last four, Barcelona were coming off the back of a relatively comfortable 5-1 aggregate victory over PSG, with Messi’s teammates Neymar and Luis Suarez stealing the headlines, grabbing four of the five goals over the two legs.
Bayern Munich, managed by Barca legend Pep Guardiola, had recovered from the shock of a first leg defeat to Porto as they brushed aside their Portuguese counterparts 6-1 to set up a monumental clash in the semi-finals.
In the first 15 minutes of the game, Barcelona’s scintillating front three of Messi, Suarez and Neymar looked dangerous, but Guardiola’s familiarity with his former side gave Bayern an advantage as they shut the Catalan giants out, and with 15 minutes to go looked to be taking a priceless 0-0 draw back to the Allianz Arena.
Until Messi decided they wouldn’t.
In the 77th minute, Manuel Neuer’s hurried free-kick gifted Barcelona the lead as Messi picked up possession and a pocket of space to fire the ball past the floundering German international.
A goal of quality and awareness from Messi but one that is universally forgotten such was the infamy of his truly iconic second, just three minutes later.
The mercurial Messi picked the ball up on the right after a pass from Ivan Rakitic as Bayern defender Jerome Boateng came out from the centre to meet him.
In the blink of an eye and in one of the most iconic moments of Messi’s career, the forward took four lighting quick touches before nicking the ball through a floundering Boateng’s legs, leaving the German international in a heap on the floor.
When Boateng turned to get up, he saw a truly delightful finish as Messi dinked the ball delicately past the onrushing Neuer and out of the reach of the covering Rafinha.
“Only football can make you feel like this!” exclaimed Martin Tyler as Messi’s dazzling footwork was shown over and over again, each time making you wonder what spell the Argentine had cast on Boateng’s ankles to turn them to jelly with such mesmeric ease.
Neymar scored the third goal to top off the display (assisted by who else, but Lionel Messi) as Barca lay down a marker, and continued on to the final where they would defeat Juventus to win their 5th European crown.
Messi‘s performance in the game was iconic. It was almost perfect. 100% shot accuracy. Nine take-ons completed. Two goals. One Jerome Boateng on skates.
It was a moment that beautifully summed up the genius of the Argentine in just a simple but iconic way. It’s a testament to his quality that five years later we still look back on it so fondly, while almost expecting him to top it again and again.
Five years ago today, Lionel Messi made Jerome Boateng eat grass 😳
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) May 6, 2020