On Sunday 12th August 2018, Lionel Messi became the most decorated player in Barcelona’s history when his team won the Supercopa De Espana in an entertaining match against Sevilla, Barcelona won 2-1. The 2018 Supercopa is the 33rd trophy that the 31-year-old Messi has helped win since he made his debut for Barca in October 2014.
This was also the first club trophy that Messi has won without his longtime sidekick and fellow Barcelona legend Andres Iniesta. Below is a forensic analysis of Lionel Messi’s 33 major titles at Barcelona:
Messi won titles alongside the likes of Deco, Ronaldinho, and Eto’o in Rijkaard’s entertaining, flawed and ill-disciplined Barca side. He then won with Xavi, Iniesta and David Villa when Pep was the coach, a Barcelona side was widely touted as the best side of the past 20 years. He won titles with Neymar and Suarez (MSN) and recently under Luis Enrique. He helped win last season’s La Liga with Coutinho, Iniesta, and Suarez.
Those are at least four different sides with different styles, different teammates, different coaches and different mentalities. The only constant is the little genius, Messi. It is mind-blowing.
Messi and his greatest rival, Cristiano Ronaldo, have normalized winning. It shouldn’t be normalized. Nadal and Federer normalized greatness in tennis, but their old legs have left a gap at the top end of the male version of the game. The exit of Messi will likewise leave records that might not be broken in decades.
Current Barcelona coach, Ernesto Valverde has certainly begun his career off to a bright start, but it is the UEFA Champions League that will be Messi’s main target this season. It has been three years since they lifted this highly coveted trophy, a drought by their lofty standards. They might meet former club captain and record-breaking coach Pep Guardiola with his superb Manchester City side on the way.
With signings such as Coutinho (cup-tied last season in the UEFA Champions League), Malcolm, Arturo Vidal and Lenglet, Barcelona may not be as good as the teams that won under Guardiola and Enrique but they will be a hard nut to crack.