When Messi takes a free kick, “often times, you’re already thinking about where to celebrate it,” said Barça midfielder Ivan Rakitic after the game.
Regardless of how impressive it was, Messi has made a habit of scoring on free kicks all year long. In fact, Tuesday’s strike from outside the area was Messi’s eighth free-kick goal of the 2018 calendar year, an all-time record. Here are the teams he has done it against:
Jan. 14 vs Real Sociedad (La Liga)
Jan. 28 vs Alavés (La Liga)
Feb. 24 vs Girona (La Liga)
Mar. 1 vs Las Palmas (La Liga)
Mar. 4 vs Atlético Madrid (La Liga)
Apr. 7 vs Leganés (La Liga)
Aug. 18 vs Alavés (La Liga)
Sep. 18 vs PSV Eindhoven (UEFA Champions League)
And with 18 games remaining in 2018, it’s relatively probable that Messi will add more to his tally.
With that beautiful first goal, which sailed over the PSV wall and out of the goalkeeper’s reach into the upper right corner, Messi’s record-breaking night was just getting started. Before the final whistle, he would find the net twice more, and in the process register his eighth career hat-trick in European competition, one more than previous co-leader Cristiano Ronaldo, who has seven.
But while Messi’s teammates and the Barça fans were left agape in the aftermath of an impressive opening night in the Champions League, it was the team’s manager, Ernesto Valverde, who summed it up best: