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Messi vs Athletic Club / PHOTO: Miguel Ruiz - FCB

• Messi plays Meris to Müller’s Ruth

”With two controlled swings of the deadliest left foot in soccer, Lionel Messi moved two steps closer [now only one goal] to breaking a 40-year-old goal-scoring record that, until recently, looked as if it would not be challenged,” writes Steven Cotton for the New York Times.

Cotton goes on to compare the Messi’s race to catch Der Bomber’s record to the home run battle between the two baseball greats, Babe Ruth and Roger Maris:

“The subject bears more than a little resemblance to the debate that was prompted when Babe Ruth’s single-season record of 60 home runs in 1927 was eclipsed by another Yankee, Roger Maris, in 1961. Ruth achieved his feat in a 154-game season, while Maris broke the record in the first year of the 162-game schedule, needing the final game of the season to hit No. 61. Maris’s record was long tagged with an asterisk.”

However, Cotton notes, “drawing comparisons between eras is never an exact science, though, and Messi and Müller have much in common, namely their ability to score often. Both have been the leading scorer in the European Cup (now the Champions League) four times. This past March, Messi joined Müller, now 67, as the 11th player to have scored five times in a single European Cup or Champions League match.”

“But for all the records, there is one left to break. With eight more goals in his final eight games [now six], Messi can achieve perhaps the ultimate goal-scoring feat.”

Read Steven Cotton's article in its entirety here.

• Celtic FC plays Barça’s anthem after sealing spot in Champions League Round of 16

When Svein Oddvar Moen raised his arms and blew the final whistle at the Camp Nou last night, football fans 1,340 miles away started to cheer. The goalless draw between the Blaugrana and the Águilas meant that Celtic FC, who narrowly edged Spartak Moscow (2-1) at Celtic Park last night, sealed their well-earned spot in the Champions League Round of 16.

According to El Mundo Deportivo, Celtic FC officials played ‘El Cant del Barça’  – FC Barcelona’s anthem –  over Celtic Park’s PA system as a gesture of gratitude to the Blaugrana for not losing to Benfica (a result that would have seen Celtic out of the competition).

The excellent relationship enjoyed by FC Barcelona and Celtic FC took centre stage last month when the Hoops defeated the Blaugrana in Glasgow. Despite the defeat, both clubs showcased the bond of friendship and mutual respect they have for each other.

Congratulations on the Round of 16 berth, Celtic!

Read El Mundo Deportivo's coverage of Celtic FC's gesture here.

• Messi Map: How Argentine maestro conquered the world

CNN’s Tom McGowan brings us a bomber’s view of Messi’s goals in 2012. “To celebrate the iconic No. 10's annus mirabilis, CNN has charted every single goal scored by Messi during an incredible 12 months for Barcelona and Argentina,” writes McGowan.

View the map here.

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