After a sensational few days of record-breaking exploits to further confirm his status as a living legend, Lionel Messi admitted he is proud to have overhauled former Real Madrid star Raul as the Champions League’s leading scorer.
The Argentine maestro scored his second consecutive hat-trick in Tuesday’s 4-0 thrashing of APOEL to take his tally in Europe’s elite competition to 74 goals, having moved to the head of the all-time La Liga scoring charts with another treble against Sevilla at the weekend.
After the game in Cyprus saw him register the 31st hat-trick of his career – and the very first with all goals being scored by his right foot, Messi said: “I am happy to overtake the record of a phenomenal player like Raul.”
However, maintaining his ‘team comes first’ philosophy, Messi added: “But the thing that really matters is that the goals take us all the way to Berlin (next year’s Champions League final host city) so we can fight for the title.”
Before they can think about the final, though, Messi and his teammates will have to beat Paris Saint-Germain in the concluding group game in a fortnight if they want to top the table.
PSG’s 3-2 victory over Barca in September has allowed the French club to take a one-point advantage into the final set of group fixtures, and Messi admitted it will be a big occasion as his team seek to avoid being paired with a group winner in the first knockout round.
“It will be a difficult game, we know that they have very good players and that they are growing as a team and becoming stronger,” he continued.
“But we will be the home team and we will try to achieve our goal from the beginning of the year to win everything.”
Tuesday’s victory over APOEL was also a significant occasion for Messi’s strike partner Luis Suarez, who registered his first goal for his new club after five games without getting on the scoresheet.