Primera Division

The stats that show how much Lionel Messi struggled against Real Madrid in El Clasico

Barcelona lost Saturday's El Clasico 2-1 to Real Madrid and throughout the match Lionel Messi struggled to assert any control on the game

10:34pm on Saturday 10th April 2021
Stefan Bienkowski

Barcelona are used to Lionel Messi providing the winning spark in hard-fought El Clasico clashes with Real Madrid but on Saturday the Argentine star was uncharacteristically quiet.

While Karim Benzema was tapping in back-heeled goals and Toni Kroos was converting set-pieces on the edge of the box, Barcelona instead had to turn to central defender Oscar Mingueza to offer some second-half inspiration with his unexpected goal.

Indeed, this potential Spanish title decider was a game that Messi struggled to dictate from start to finish and when we look at the stats throughout the match we can see exactly why.

How Messi struggled against Real Madrid

Perhaps the most obvious issue with Messi’s performance on Saturday night was the fact that the forward failed to score a single goal. The Argentina international was in fine form going into El Clasico, with 10 goals from his last 10 games but on a wet, water-logged pitch in Madrid the Barcelona star truly struggled.

For example, over the course of the game Messi managed to hit seven shots towards goal. No other player on the pitch managed to attempt as many, but it’s worth bearing in mind that only two of those seven chances were on target and one of those on-target attempts was a back-post volley that was smothered by Thibaut Courtois.

Indeed, “smothered” is probably the perfect word to describe Messi’s output over the course of the night. Aside from the two chances he got on target, the other five shots that the Barcelona forward attempted were in fact blocked by nearby Madrid players. Wherever the tricky forward went, there always seemed to be a nearby defender to snuff him out.

33 yrs - F, AM (C) - Barcelona
JavaScript chart by amChartsLDefendingCreativePassingAttackingShootingDecisiveAerialsPhysical10-10-5051015100%
Played matches
Shots P90
Shots On target P90
Successful passing %
Final third passes P90

If Messi couldn’t score himself, he could at least try and create goals for his team mates. But, again, this was another area of the player’s game that was uncharacteristically lacking throughout the game.

On Saturday Messi managed just two key passes, one through ball and four crosses in open play. And while he touched the ball and passed it more than most Barcelona players, he also lost possession seven times - more than any other player on the pitch.

While Messi was by no means the worst player on the pitch for Barcelona, he also wasn’t the best either. And, considering the standards the player sets himself, he’ll undoubtedly be disappointed with how Saturday’s El Clasico went.

Latest news

Player Ratings

Spain 0-0 Sweden Player Ratings: Morata misfires as La Roja held

Spain dominated their Euro 2020 opener against Sweden in Seville but were guilty of missing some fine opportunities.

  • 5 hours
Player Ratings

Scotland 0-2 Czech Republic Player Ratings: Stunning Schick scores from halfway line

Scotland's first game at a major international tournament in 23 years ended in defeat as they lost 2-0 to a Patrik Schick-inspired Czech Republic.

  • 12 hours
Predicted XI

Ronaldo, Jota to start but Cancelo out - How Portugal could line up against Hungary

Portugal manager Fernando Santos will have to shuffle his defence after Manchester City defender Joao Cancelo tested positive for COVID

  • 15 hours
Predicted XI

Benzema fit - How France and Germany could line up in Euro 2020 Group F

The biggest fixture of the European Championship so far takes place on Wednesday as two juggernaut nations do battle

  • 16 hours
Player Ratings

Netherlands 3-2 Ukraine Player Ratings: Wijnaldum stars in five-goal thriller

Netherlands produced a thrilling 3-2 success in their Euro 2020 opener against Ukraine, with Gini Wijnaldum an outstanding performer.

  • 1 day
Player Ratings

England 1-0 Croatia Player Ratings: Phillips England's star man in narrow win

The Leeds man has been schooled by Marcelo Bielsa and he provided the most impactful performance on a hot day at Wembley

  • 1 day

Most read