Lionel Messi has scored some magical free-kicks over the course of his glittering career.
Unquestionably one of the greatest free-kick takers in football history, his stunning strikes against Liverpool, Real Madrid, Sevilla and other clubs from his hugely successful spell with Barcelona immediately spring to mind.
Messi has also netted some astonishing free-kicks while playing for Argentina. His wonder goals against USA and Colombia, in particular, are well worth checking out if you’ve never seen them.
One team who have suffered more than most over the years against Messi and his extraordinary free-kick taking ability are Atletico Madrid.
The six-time Ballon d’Or winner scored several fantastic free-kicks past various Atletico goalkeepers including Thibaut Courtois and Jan Oblak.
It was also against Atleti that Messi came agonisingly close to scoring what would have been the greatest free-kick of his entire career, as well as one of the best free-kicks of all time.
In the 77th minute of the match, Messi had a free-kick roughly 35 yards from goal.
It looked too far out, even for the little magician, but after taking a short run-up Messi couldn’t have struck the ball sweeter with his left foot.
The ball flew like an arrow past Atletico’s two-man wall before thundering off the underside of Miguel Angel Moya’s crossbar.
The ferocity of the strike stunned all inside Camp Nou, as well as co-commentator Ray Hudson.
Ray Hudson stunned by Messi's free-kick
“Nobody expecting this one from this distance and this angle… we should hang out heads in shame because impossible is nothing for this man from Argentina who is nearly cleaner than Neutrogena with this one.
“A diamond, a catapult, a sledgehammer launched - and we are a lick of paint from one of his greatest ever goals.
“Look at the dynamic on this. The ball virtually stays stationary through, such is the magic of the technique.
“Astonishing, jaw-dropping genius from Messi.”
Video: Would this have been Messi's greatest free-kick?
Watch Messi’s free-kick here:
Yes, it wasn’t a goal, but take nothing away from the strike.
A few centimetres lower and there’s no doubt that this free-kick would now rank alongside the greatest in football history.
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