Leo Messi begins the year just as he did in 2016 with a superb direct free-kick against Athletic Club
FC Barcelona’s first game of 2017 did not quite go according to plan as Athletic Club came away with a narrow 2-1 win in the Copa del Rey last-16 first leg but it was a familiar start in terms of who got on the scoresheet.
Leo Messi began the year just as he did last, with a spectacular free-kick in the Copa last 16. Last year, against Espanyol, the Argentine struck a dead ball at the same stage of the cup in a 4-1 win.
The away goal gives Barça strong hopes of reaching the next round. Below are the stats and facts that stood out from the enthralling game:
- Leo Messi has scored 20 goals against Athletic Club. The Basques are now the sixth club that Messi has scored 20 or more goals against in all competitions.
- Sergio Busquets (71), Iniesta (61) and Piqué (56) gave the most successful passes. As a team, Barça played more than double Athletic’s passes, with 505 to the hosts’ 209.
- It was Luis Enrique’s first defeat in the Copa del Rey as Barça boss. Up until Thursday’s game, Lucho has won 17 matches and drawn three which have led to winning the trophy in both seasons.
- Athletic and Real Madrid are the only sides to have beaten Barça in the cup in the last six years.
- Neymar Jr and Messi were the players who managed the most successful dribbles with six and five respectively.
- Jordi Alba recovered possession more than any other player with a total of eight.
- Messi is the third Barça player to hit 40 goals in the cup after Samitier (64) and Kubala (49).