Lionel Messi is arguably the greatest player of all time so it’s not surprising he’s left many of his decorated peers wiping metaphorical custard pies off their faces during their careers.
Messi has bewitched supporters and opponents alike for Barcelona, PSG and Argentina since 2004 and he’s so talented that there’s almost no shame in being beaten by the pint-sized maestro. Almost.
We’ve compiled an XI of superb footballers that Messi has turned into quivering wrecks throughout his sensational career.
GK: Manuel Neuer
Bayern Munich goalkeeper Neuer was buoyant before the Champions League semi-final against Barcelona in 2015; he’d won the World Cup nine months previously, beating Messi’s Argentina in the final, and was lauded as the best of his generation.
Messi sat him on his arse.
Manuel Neuer: “It’s crucial to show authority when we meet on the pitch and show him who’s boss. I did the same in the World Cup final and this worked out pretty well.”
— FourFourTwo (@FourFourTwo) May 6, 2019
RB: James Milner
Milner was attempting to dispossess Messi near the half-line. The pint-sized Argentinian took advantage of Milner’s folly by slotting the ball through the Yorkshireman’s legs that were conveniently located in different postcodes.
Five years since Lionel Messi did THIS to James Milner 😱
Absolutely no mercy 😩pic.twitter.com/hZfOCh9Zi0
— GOAL (@goal) March 18, 2020
CB: Sergio Ramos
Sit back, pick your favourite snack and watch 245 seconds of Messi leaving Ramos contemplating a career in landscape gardening or amateur butchery.
CB: Jerome Boateng
April 2015 saw the end of Boateng’s reputation as one of Europe’s top defenders. We hope Messi paid for the surgery for the German’s shattered ankles.
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) May 6, 2022
LB: Roberto Carlos
Upon receiving the ball, and spotting Carlos zooming into his personal space, Messi slowed the game down to a pause and laid the trap for his gilded opponent.
Carlos took the bait. As the World Cup winner contemplated pinching the ball, Messi left him stumbling backwards like a disorientated drunk as he motored past. Magnificant.
We all know why Roberto Carlos doesn’t like Messi😉 pic.twitter.com/pDv0V1HAmd
— Football Tweets (@FutballTweets) February 18, 2016
CM: Paul Scholes
Scholes was often more appreciated by his European peers than English supporters but he was firmly put in his place by a long-haired Messi back in 2008.
Despite the fact Manchester United beat Barcelona on this occasion, with Scholes scoring the winner, Messi gave a glimpse of his glittering future by leaving the United midfielder for dead and reaching for his inhaler with his rapid footwork.
That moment Messi made Scholes look like an amateur 😲
— GOAL (@goal) February 10, 2020
CM: David Silva
Barcelona’s 2014-15 side is often overlooked when debating their greatest-ever sides but a forward line of Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez swept all before them in Spain and Europe.
Take this Champions League beating of Manchester City for example. Although Messi didn’t even score a single goal in the fixture, his performances were phenomenal.
In the 26th minute of the first leg, Messi nutmegged David Silva when he approached to make a tackle. Silva certainly didn’t try that again.
Messi did this to David Silva😂 pic.twitter.com/N2wENeVYzR
— ABG (@Auwal_Gims) November 24, 2021
CM: Toni Kroos
We could have selected any one of Real Madrid’s golden midfield trio from the 2010s but there was a wonderful juxtaposition between Messi’s Latin flair and Kroos puffing and puce from the heat behind him.
Of course, we’re doing a multiple Champions League winner a huge injustice in our description of him. But Messi often reduced world-class operators to Sunday League plodders.
RW: Arjen Robben
Robben was a sensational winger during his peak for Bayern Munich but a young Messi sent him on the first boat back to the Netherlands during a Champions League tie in 2006.
A curiously not-bald Robben attempted to dispossess the teenage wonder only to be left choking on dust as Messi avoided his sliding tackle and sped away.
When a young Lionel Messi sent Chelsea’s Arjen Robben back to Holland. pic.twitter.com/85TvYWTaTA
— Football Tweets (@FutballTweets) March 31, 2016
ST: Cristiano Ronaldo
Apart from all the Ballons d’Or Messi won at the expense of Ronaldo, which definitely keeps him up at night, he also left us with the wonderful image of Cristiano munching on worms after one failed sliding tackle.
Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona were at their maddening best in this particular fixture against Real Madrid, denying their arch-enemy the ball and the chance to retain some dignity.
And, as Messi was put through on goal, Ronaldo committed to a desperate lunge to dispossess his great rival. He failed.
Barcelona’s dismantling of Manchester United in the 2011 Champions League final is regarded by many as one of the finest club performances of all-time.
And Messi, who scored and won Man of the Match for his performance, sent Nani for an over-priced Wembley hot dog without even touching the ball.
It remains one of life’s great mysteries that Albus Dumbledore chose Harry Potter, and not Messi, to be the greatest wizard of the age.
This is just art – Messi off balances Nani without touching the ball pic.twitter.com/7Ko4xLxKxh
— Aaron Cusack (@AaronCuz) January 15, 2021
READ MORE: Where are they now? The Barcelona B XI from Messi’s last game in 2005