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The attacker hit 73 last season to beat Gerd Muller's record and raise the bar, but with 10 goals in seven games already he could even reach three figures this time around

ANALYSIS
By Ben Hayward | Spanish Football Writer

Everybody gets sad sometimes. At the moment it's Cristiano Ronaldo in the spotlight following revelations of his unhappiness at Real Madrid, but at the end of last April it was Lionel Messi who was suffering, and not the Portuguese.

Messi's world was a far from happy place as the 2011-12 season drew to a close. In the space of just over a week, Barcelona had lost La Liga with defeat at home to Real Madrid, crashed out of the Champions League after failing to overcome Chelsea at Camp Nou and then, perhaps worst of all, Pep Guardiola announced his impending departure from the Catalan club.

The Argentine was criticised for his failure to turn up at Pep's press conference farewell but he had good reason - he was too sad and didn't want the negative media attention or the emotional expression etched on his face to appear in newspapers all over the world. But he was also still hurting from his missed penalty against Chelsea in that Champions League semi-final second leg - and from losing La Liga to his side's fiercest rivals.

Messi recently defended his side's achievements in 2011-12, in which the Catalans claimed the Spanish Supercopa, Uefa Super Cup, Club World Cup and the Copa del Rey. Four out of six was still pretty good by anyone's standards - but Barca missed out on the big ones.

MESSI'S 73 GOALS IN 2011-12
La Liga
CL
Copa del Rey
 Supercopa
Uefa SC
CWC
50
(37 games)
14
(11 games)
3
(7 games)
3
(2 games)
1
(1 game)
2
(2 games)

That was hardly the forward's fault. The 25-year-old was sensational, scoring a record 73 goals (in 60 games) to beat a long-standing Gerd Muller record for goals in a European season, as well as setting up 29 others in a memorable campaign. He also added a third successive Ballon d'Or to his collection, but always claims to be more interested in team titles than individual accolades.

That may be true, but Messi is certainly determined to avoid a repeat of last season's sorry climax. Having missed out on the two top trophies in 2011-12, the Argentine is hungrier than ever. And it shows.

In just seven games so far this term, the Argentine has hit 10 goals at a rate of one every 57 minutes, taking into account the fact that he played only the last half an hour against Getafe. If he can continue that superb strike rate until the end of the season, avoid injury and help Barca make it to the sharp end of all three competitions, a new mark looks likely. At his current rate, however, he won't just beat last season's 73, but obliterate it. In fact, he could even hit 100 in 2012-13.

With 34 league games remaining, a possible 12 Champions League clashes and potentially nine more matches in the Copa del Rey, Leo could feature in a further 55 fixtures for his club in the current campaign. That's 4,950 minutes of football and at his current rate of a goal every 57 minutes, he would manage another 87. And given that he has 10 already, a century is hardly out of the question.

MESSI'S 10 GOALS IN 2012-13
La Liga
Champions League
Supercopa
6
(4 games)
2
(1 game)
2
(2 games)

In truth, it probably is, but nothing is surprising any more with Messi. If he is able to put four past Arsenal and rack up five versus Bayer Leverkusen in the knockout stages of Europe's premier club competition, why should he not be able to hit 100 in a single season comprising of more than 60 games, many against far weaker sides than those?

Leo, though, is unlikely to play in the first two Copa clashes against lower-league opposition, and may struggle to stay at his breathtaking best throughout the entire campaign. The odds are against it, but considering all of the goalscoring marks he has surpassed so far at the tender age of 25, Messi's motto matches that of his boot sponsor: impossible is nothing.

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