Messi Magic: A look back at the five best goals from Lionel Messi's 600
Lionel Messi reached another career milestone on Sunday, scoring his 600th goal for club and country in Barcelona's game against Atletico Madrid at Camp Nou.
Messi hasn't stopped scoring since he opened his account for Barca back in 2005 as a teenager against Albacete, with his first Argentina goal arriving the following year against Croatia.
Since then, he's gone on to become the all-time leading goalscorer in Barcelona and Argentina history and is also La Liga's record goalscorer.
It's difficult to remember all 600 goals, let alone narrow them down to just five, but ESPN FC attempt to pick out Messi's best-ever efforts here:
Becoming Barca's youngest ever goalscorer -- a record later taken by Bojan Krkic -- and giving Chelsea's Asier Del Horno nightmares at Stamford Bridge had already helped establish a young, long-haired Messi among football's die-hard supporters. But, in a world without Twitter, it was difficult to gauge how universally well-known he was. Until that goal against Getafe.
The day after his Diego Maradona-like slalom around five Getafe players ended with a goal and left the Camp Nou crowd speechless (and one month after his first hat-trick against Real Madrid, which should have caught most people's attention), replays of the goal were shown around the globe. It was pretty much the only thing a certain sports news channel showed in the United Kingdom.
Messi had arrived. He had the world's attention and was on the path to becoming one of football's superstars. The goal, though, eventually served for very little. It did help Barca beat Getafe 5-2 on the night, but Frank Rijkaard's side went on to lose the second leg, exiting the Copa del Rey in the semifinal.
As the ball hit the back of the net, the camera cut to the bench -- except no one was there. Everyone was up on the touchline, substitutes and coaching staff embracing, others with their hands on their heads in disbelief.
No prizes for guessing what the surprise was: another Messi masterpiece. Leading 1-0 away at Real Zaragoza, he battled to win the ball back near the halfway line before racing past another player on his way to the penalty area. Once there, he beat a third defender not once, but twice before driving a low shot in at the far post.
It was his second goal of the night and he would later go on to complete his hat-trick.
Xavi Hernandez calls this one "practically the greatest goal of all-time." What made it particularly special was the setting: a Champions League night at the Santiago Bernabeu at the height of the rivalry between Pep Guardiola's Barca and Jose Mourinho's Real Madrid.
Messi had already scored the first goal of the game but then he played a give-and-go with Sergio Busquets, drifted past four Madrid players and slid the ball beyond goalkeeper Iker Casillas with his weaker right foot. It sealed Barca's place in the final of the competition, where they would beat Manchester United.
Some of the Getafe and Zaragoza defenders must be grateful that memes weren't a big thing when Messi made them look like training cones. Bayern Munich defender Jerome Boateng wasn't so lucky when Messi did the dirty on him nearly three years ago.
This Champions League semifinal clash was billed as the return of Guardiola, who was back at Camp Nou for the first time since leaving, as Bayern boss. It once again ended up being all about Messi, though, and his two goals on the night in a 3-0 win.
Having already scored the opener, he dumped Boateng, a Germany international and one of the best centre-backs in the world at the time, on the floor before chipping the ball over Manuel Neuer like he was one of Snow White's Seven Dwarfs. Most Barca supporters spent the next two weeks watching memes of Boateng falling into black holes, receiving a Stone Cold Stunner and getting himself in a tangle playing Twister.
Messi's goal in the Copa del Rey final against Athletic three years ago was worthy of dissection. So dissect it is what ESPN did.
Picking the ball up just inside the opponent's half, he accelerated from 0-19.5mph in just 2.73 seconds, which is on a par with some of the quickest players in the NFL -- except he did it with the ball at his feet. Still, going fast is one thing, but what could he do about the three defenders who had all gravitated to within 6 feet of the ball? Three touches is what he could do. Three touches to take all three of them out of the game in 1.2 seconds.
Breaching the area, he then creates space for a 48 mph shot inside the goalkeeper's near post. In total, the whole move encompassed 11.4 seconds and covered over 60 yards. And it's worth watching again and again and again.
It feels wrong to compile a list without even mentioning any of Messi's Argentina goals, given they account for 10 percent of his 600 goals, so here's to some of Messi's many memorable strikes for his country. Think of it as a bonus: That chip against Mexico in 2007 which he often had on repeat during the first half of his career. That stunning hat-trick-completing, match-winning goal in a friendly against Brazil (2012). That goal against Iran (2014) at the World Cup which still haunts Carlos Quieroz. That pinpoint free-kick which helped say goodbye to the United States (2016) at the Copa America.
Samuel Marsden covers Barcelona for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @SamuelMarsden.