Eight games, no goals; not the sort of record one usually associates with Lionel Messi. The world’s best footballer is well on his way to 200 career strikes, is already up to fourth in the all-time list of scorers at Barcelona and is set to become the first ever player to net 50 times in a season in Spain, having reached 48 with his fine winner against Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday night.
But he still hasn’t scored against Jose Mourinho.
Mourinho’s Madrid and Messi’s Barcelona meet at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday in the first of four Clasico matches which will define the season for Spain’s big two.
Messi and Mourinho are no strangers; They almost coincided at Barcelona, when Mourinho was an assistant to Bobby Robson and later Louis van Gaal at Camp Nou, but the Portuguese moved on two months before the arrival of the then-13-year-old Argentine.
Just over three years later, their paths did cross as Messi made his first-team debut in a 2-0 friendly defeat against a Porto team coached by Mourinho. In the first ever game at Estadio do Dragao, Messi impressed as a substitute and should have scored, attempting to beat the last defender when he had an open goal at his mercy.
Since then, Messi and Mourinho have met eight times. Here’s what happened next.
Feb 22, 2006 - Chelsea 1 Barcelona 2
Messi had become a first-team regular by this time and was a real star in this match. The Argentina forward had five shots, all on target, and came closest with a fierce drive that hit the woodwork late on. His run down the right flank also provoked a desperate lunge from full-back Asier del Horno, who was sent off, an incident that swung the tie in Barca's favour.
Mar 7, 2006 - Barcelona 1 Chelsea 1
Messi looked lively early on in the second-leg at Camp Nou, but left the pitch in tears on 25 minutes after tearing a muscle in his right thigh. The injury kept him out for the rest of the season and he looked on from the stands as Barca collected European club football's coveted prize the first time since 1992.
Oct 18, 2006 - Chelsea 1 Barcelona 0
Chelsea and Barca were paired together in the group stages of the Champions League the following season. Messi missed two decent opportunities as he saw a shot well saved by Hilario and later headed off target. Didier Drogba scored the winner for the Blues.
Oct 31, 2006 - Barcelona 2 Chelsea 2
This match is best remembered for Drogba’s brilliant last-minute equaliser and Frank Lampard’s stunning chip. Messi was a peripheral figure, setting up a good chance for Ronaldinho but failing to threaten Hilario in the Chelsea goal. Deco and Eidur Gudjohnsen scored for Barca.
Sep 16, 2009 - Inter 0 Barcelona 0
Messi came close to breaking the deadlock in this stalemate in the group stages of the Champions League. The Argentina forward was denied by a fine one-handed save from Julio Cesar in the first half and was later thwarted by a last-ditch tackle from Cristian Chivu. Barca won 2-0 when the two teams met in November at Camp Nou, but Messi was short of full fitness and was left on the bench.
Apr 20, 2010 - Inter 3 Barcelona 1
Inter and Barca met again in the semi-finals of the Champions League and the Catalans were clear favourites. Messi had destroyed Arsenal with a brilliant four-goal display in the previous round, but Barca were forced to travel to Italy by coach due to the volcanic ash cloud, and the Argentinian was strangely subdued at San Siro. Pedro put Barca ahead, but Inter stormed back to win 3-1.
Apr 28, 2010 - Barcelona 1 Inter 0
Motta was sent off for Inter after 27 minutes of the second leg, and the Italians shut up shop, handing possession to Barca and standing strong against a wave of Catalan attacks. Messi came close with a 20-yard curler in the first half, which Julio Cesar pushed wide low to his right, but could inspire his team to victory. Gerard Pique gave Pep Guardiola’s side hope late on, but the all-important second goal remained elusive.
Nov 29, 2010 - Barcelona 5 Real Madrid 0
Messi is no stranger to scoring against Madrid, having netted a brilliant hat-trick in a 3-3 draw at Camp Nou in 2007, and the 23-year-old was brilliant in the 5-0 mauling of Mourinho’s Madrid in November. He sent an exquisite chip against the post after four minutes and was a constant thorn in Madrid’s side, setting up David Villa for a brace later in the game. But he was unable to extend his scoring streak to 10 consecutive games, and thus has yet to net against a Mourinho team in his career.