Barcelona vs Napoli: Ranking Lionel Messi's 11 greatest Champions League performances

Lionel Messi's goal against Bayern Munich in 2015 is one of the greatest in Champions League history

Lionel Messi has given football fans some Champions League memories to cherish throughout his career.

The 33-year-old is one of only two players – the other being Cristiano Ronaldo – to have scored over 100 goals in club football’s most prodigious tournament.

Messi has scored 114 times for Barcelona in the Champions League, winning the competition on four occasions.

Tonight against Napoli, the Argentine will be a man on a mission and there are few better sights in football than a fired up Messi taking on all comers from Europe’s elite.

So before kick-off at 8pm in the Camp Nou, we’ve deiced to relive some of those ‘sights’ by ranking what we believe to be the 11 best performances of Messi’s career in the Champions League.

11. Manchester City, 2016

Messi vs Man City

Pep Guardiola’s first return to the Camp Nou as manager of City was a bit of a disaster.

The English side lost 4-0 in Catalonia, with Messi grabbing a brilliant hat-trick in front of the Barcelona faithful.

English teams have never been able to contain the little magician.

10. Tottenham, 2018

Messi vs Spurs

The second – and last – group game to feature in our list.

Messi made Spurs’ defence look like rank amateurs back in the winter of 2018 as he scored twice to seal a 4-2 win for Barca.

This was the Argentine at his mesmerising best and Mauricio Pochettino’s side just had no clue what to do with him.

9. Manchester United, 2019

Messi vs United

Another English opponent, another world-class display.

Following a quiet outing in the first leg against United, Messi burst into life at the Camp Nou, scoring twice in four first-half minutes.

He was at the centre of everything good, toying with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side for the entirety of the game as Barca ran out 3-0 winners.

8. Chelsea, 2018

Messi vs Chelsea

Imagine thinking Messi would struggle in the Premier League, eh?

After scoring a crucial away goal at Stamford Bridge, the diminutive Argentine put the Blues to the sword in Catalonia with two more brilliant strikes – both of which nutmegged Thibaut Courtois.

He also teed up Ousmane Dembele for his first goal in the famous red and blue shirt, a complete performance.

7. Manchester City, 2015

Yep, another English side and this is the only game on the list in which Messi failed to score in.

However, that doesn’t matter one iota, because it was still a performance of the highest order.

Messi setup Ivan Rakitic for the only goal of the game and in the midst of dictating proceedings, he delivered one of the greatest ever nutmegs on poor ol’ James Milner – iconic.

6. AC Milan, 2013

The night Barca became the first side in Champions League history to overturn a 2-0 first leg deficit.

Messi scored a stunner from outside the box after just five minutes, before levelling the tie with an equally brilliant goal.

He probably should have had a hat-trick, but it didn’t matter as David Villa and Jordi Alba ensured a 4-0 win for the Blaugrana.

5. Bayer Leverkusen, 2012

Messi vs Leverkusen

You may be asking; how on earth can you rank a game in which Messi scored five – yes, FIVE – goals in so low?!

Because that’s how ridiculously good he has been. Nevertheless, we will still pay tribute to this iconic performance.

Leverkusen’s defending was appalling at times, but it still took a special display from Messi to score five goals and seal a 7-1 win for Barca.

4. Arsenal, 2010

Messi vs Arsenal

Yes, he *only* scored four times against the Gunners, but the circumstances in which he did so make it a better display than his quintet of strikes against Leverkusen.

Arsenal took a surprise 1-0 lead at the Camp Nou to put them ahead in the tie and in response, Messi decided to make Arsene Wenger’s side look like a pub team.

He scored a hat-trick before half-time, including a physics-defying chip over Manuel Almunia while running at full speed and then completed the job in the second half with his and Barca’s fourth of the game.

3. Bayern Munich, 2015

Messi’s dribble past Jerome Boateng and elegant chipped finish over Manuel Neuer is one of the most incredible sequences of play in the history of football.

It was a masterpiece, a work of art that still gets better with every single replay. But that goal was far from Messi’s only contribution against Guardiola’s Bayern.

He opened the scoring late on with a brilliant strike from the edge of the box and helped end the tie as a contest in injury-time by setting up Neymar to make it 3-0.

2. Manchester United, 2011

Messi vs United

It was a rarity to see Sir Alex Ferguson’s United side completely dominated from the first to the final whistle.

Barca as a team were unplayable in the 2011 final at Wembley and it was Messi who conducted the orchestra.

United’s midfield and defence were left scratching their heads as the Argentine danced past them repeatedly. Not only did he run the show, he scored the crucial goal to make it 2-1 to the Spanish giants on the night.

1. Real Madrid, 2011

Messi vs Real Madrid

A debatable number one, we know, but this was Messi sprinkling magic on what was one of the ugliest games in Champions League history.

An El Clasico semi-final was always going to be heated, but this battle between Jose Mourinho and Guardiola was a bit much.

But that didn’t deter Messi one bit. He broke the deadlock at the Bernabeu with a well-timed finish at the near post, before scoring one of the greatest solo goals of all time to make it 2-0.

To produce such a thing of beauty against a Mourinho defence on the biggest stage of all is why the Argentine’s virtuoso display in the Spanish capital takes top spot.

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