Month: April 2018

Lionel Messi’s toughest opponents

I wanted to see which opponents have given Messi the toughest time when it comes to actually winning against, but surprisingly, the data wasn’t easy to find. So I compiled match by match results and put them together in, hopefully, easy to read charts.


Clearly, his biggest nemesis has been Real Madrid, although he has still won more than he has lost against them. Bayern Munich is the only team that has a >50% winrate against Messi, which is pretty incredible. Chelsea (or Hercules, but they have only two matches) is the next worst opponent with a split score. I was obviously expecting dominance, but not this massive.

The other surprising find (to non La Liga watchers) was Real Sociedad, which has been Barcelona’s away curse for a long time. Malaga was the other surprising team.

I also looked at how many games he had scored in against each of the opponents, to add another dimension of his contributions. His wins and games that he scores in are highly correlated (0.43), and the games that he doesn’t score in is negatively correlated with his wins (-0.28). Now, obviously, this doesn’t split cause and effect, but I am sure there isn’t any other Barca player with a higher negative correlation.

With Argentina, the data is much more sparse and way less meaningful, but here it is:


That’s pretty much it, but here is something that aggregated stats don’t show. Enjoy!