Lionel Messi stunned the soccer world Monday as just about everyone was talking about his latest incredible achievement.
Unless you have been hiding in a cave or under a rock, you already know that Messi shattered Gerd Mueller’s 40-year-old record for most goals in a calendar year on Sunday. He struck twice for Barcelona in its 2-1 La Liga triumph at Real Betis to give him 86 goals — one more than the German legend — with three games to spare in 2012.
The Argentine international scored in the 16th and 25th minutes to move past the man known as “Der Bomber.”
Messi’s nickname “The Flea”– because he is small and has a confounding way he can move through defenses — might not be as intimidating but his reputation precedes itself before he even enters a soccer pitch.
Here are some intriguing numbers to remember:
* Messi leads La Liga with 23 goals. Colombian standout Radamel Falcao, who scored five goals for Atletico Madrid in a 6-0 trouncing of Deportivo Coruna Sunday, is next with 16. “Falcao scoring 5, coming closer, next week against Atletico?” Messi said on Facebook. “It’s incredible what he’s doing.”
* The Argentine has scored 74 goals for Barca and 12 for his country this year
* Messi broke Cesar Rodriguez’s 57-year-old record of 232 goals to become Barcelona’s all-time leading scorer last March.
* He also tied the record of 14 goals in a single European Cup competition last season, scoring five times in one Champions League match to set another record.
* Messi tallied 73 times in all competitions for Barcelona last season, breaking the European club record of 67 goals set by Mueller in 1972-73 and the world record of 70 established by Archie Stark of Bethlehem Steel (American Soccer League) in 1924-25.
And there is always another challenge and mountain to climb. Next on Messi’s unofficial bucket list?
Most away goals in the Spanish First Division. He is tied with former Real Madrid great Raul with 86 apiece. Another Real legend, Mexican star Hugo Sanchez, has 99 goals.
But it is only a matter of time before Messi passes Sanchez.