Lionel Messi returns to PSG eyeing trophy clean sweep

USMNT's World Cup draw in Mexico a positive, but missed chances at Azteca could yet prove costly


Lionel Messi arrived back at Paris Saint-Germain’s training ground on Wednesday to resume his day job, making a return to club football 17 days after claiming 2022 World Cup glory for Argentina as he was given a guard of honour by staff and his teammates.

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Now that he’s successfully added soccer’s greatest prize to an honour roll that includes the Copa America, the Champions League, multiple league and cup titles and even Olympic gold, it may seem like there is no frontier left to conquer for Messi as he readies himself to return to action.

Messi — a seven-time winner of the Ballon d’Or on an individual level — has racked up 40 major honours in his career for club and country thus far, but there is still one outlier that remains unclaimed, at least for now.

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As incredible as it may sound, there is only one major competition that Messi has played in and not won since he turned professional almost two decades ago: the Coupe de France.

The 35-year-old’s one appearance in the French cup — a penalty shootout loss in last season’s round of 16 to Nice, who lost the final to Nantes — means it is the only senior competition he has contested without eventually going on to win.

However, PSG are just half a dozen games away from being able to right that wrong, as Christophe Galtier’s side begin their 2022-23 Coupe de France campaign on Friday against La Berrichonne de Chateauroux in the round of 64.

Lionel Messi was given a guard of honour upon his return to Paris Saint-Germain after winning the 2022 World Cup with Argentina. Instagram @PSG

Whether or not Messi makes his first post-World Cup club appearance against the third-tier side at the Stade Gaston Petit, he stands just six games from completing a phenomenal clean sweep. All that is required is for PSG to advance to the final — which they have done eight times in the past 12 years — and lift the trophy for a record-extending 15th time.

As things stand, Messi has won 11 of the 12 senior competitions he’s taken part in for club and country since his pro debut in 2004. That total rises to 12 of 13 if you include Argentina’s triumph at the 2008 Summer Olympic Games — though the men’s football tournament is officially designated as an under-23 competition, and so isn’t included here.

Argentina

CONMEBOL Copa America (won in 2021)

#CopaAmérica 🏆

¡EL MOMENTO TAN ESPERADO! Pitazo final y así lo gritó Lionel Messi 🔟🇦🇷🤩

🇦🇷 Argentina 🆚 Brasil 🇧🇷#VibraElContinente #VibraOContinente pic.twitter.com/BacbLCghFU

— Copa América (@CopaAmerica) July 11, 2021

Messi had to wait until age 34 to claim the first major international honour of his career — although he had previously earned gold at the 2008 Olympics and also won the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship, a U20 tournament. When Argentina defeated Brazil in the final of the 2021 Copa America, it was the talismanic forward’s 34th appearance in the competition in total, spread over six editions of the tournament that featured defeats in three previous finals.

Finalissima (won in 2022)

🌟Highlights in 2022🌟

🧙✨ #LeoMessi in Finalissima vs. #ITA. 🕺🏆
#Messi | #Argentina | #ARG pic.twitter.com/6v211w02LH

— UEFA EURO 2024 DE (@EURO2024DE) December 19, 2022

Messi and Argentina carried the momentum of their Copa America triumph to beat reigning European champions Italy and lift the CONMEBOL-UEFA Cup of Champions trophy last summer, adding more silverware to his long and often arduous international career.

FIFA World Cup (won in 2022)

Messi had played 60 games in World Cup qualifying and 25 games at World Cup finals (a record for a men’s player) before he finally hoisted the famous trophy aloft after the dramatic 2022 final between Argentina and France that the Albiceleste won on penalties just last month.

LaLiga (10 titles won in 2004-05, 2005-06, 2008-09, 2009-10, 2010-11, 2012-13, 2014-15, 2015-16, 2017-18 and 2018-19)

Un día ℙ𝔸ℝ𝔸 𝕃𝔸 ℍ𝕀𝕊𝕋𝕆ℝ𝕀𝔸 de #LaLigaSantander… 🌟⚽

💙🔙❤ #TalDíaComoHoy hace 7 años, Leo Messi marcaba y se convertía en el 𝐌𝐀́𝐗𝐈𝐌𝐎 𝐆𝐎𝐋𝐄𝐀𝐃𝐎𝐑 de #LaLigaHistory tras superar al mítico Zarra. pic.twitter.com/mx1xi7ITVy

— LaLiga (@LaLiga) November 22, 2021

Messi played 520 times in LaLiga for Barcelona, making more appearances in the Spanish topflight than in any other competition and scoring 474 goals along the way. He has also won the LaLiga title more times than any other, racking up 10 winner’s medals in the 17 seasons he spent at Camp Nou. He also made 32 appearances for Barca’s B and C teams early in his career, but as those sides play in Spain’s lower leagues, they are not counted as major competitions.

Copa del Rey (7 titles won in 2008-09, 2011-12, 2014-15, 2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2020-21)

G⚽️AL OF THE DAY!

🎶 #Messi, #Messi, #Messi 🎶

The King 👑. pic.twitter.com/jnkCm05RXr

— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) May 30, 2020

Messi enjoyed sustained success in Spain’s domestic cup competition too, playing 80 games and scoring 56 goals — including one of the best of his career in the 2014-15 final against Athletic Club. In all, he won the trophy seven times as a Barca player, including four in a row between 2014-15 and 2017-18.

Supercopa de Espana (8 titles in 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2016 and 2018)

The Spanish super cup usually pits the reigning LaLiga champions against the winner of the Copa del Rey, with Messi amassing an impressive tally of eight titles from the nine occasions he contested the competition with Barca, scoring 14 goals in 20 games in the process.

UEFA Champions League (4 titles in 2005-06, 2008-09, 2010-11 and 2014-15)

When a 23-year-old Lionel Messi tore Man United to shreds in the Champions League final 😯

(via @UEFAcom_fr)pic.twitter.com/aIeWahxfgh

— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) December 13, 2021

Across 19 seasons, Messi has played 161 games and scored 129 goals in the Champions League for Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain. While his quest to win a first European Cup for his current club will resume next month against Bayern Munich in the round of 16, Messi won the Champions League four times at Barca, most notably in the tour de force of a win over Manchester United in 2011.

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• Intercity vs. FC Barcelona (3 p.m. ET)

UEFA Super Cup (3 titles in 2009, 2011 and 2015)

In an exhibition game that pits the winners of the Champions League and Europa League against each other, Messi was a fundamental part of the side that delivered Barcelona’s first UEFA Super Cup since 1997 when they beat Porto in the 2011 edition. The Argentine then claimed the trophy again in both 2011 and 2015, which remains Barca’s last appearance in the fixture.

FIFA Club World Cup (3 titles in 2009, 2011 and 2015)

Messi has played five games, scored five goals and lifted the trophy three times in the Club World Cup — an annual knockout mini-tournament organised by FIFA that throws the reigning champions of each of the six continental confederations together along with the national league champions of the host nation.

Paris Saint-Germain

Ligue 1 (won in 2021-22)

Having had to wait all of nine months, Messi won the Ligue 1 title on the first attempt in his inaugural season at Paris Saint-Germain, playing 26 times and contributing six goals and 15 assists as he gradually found his feet in the French topflight. This season, with 17 league games gone, he has already racked up seven goals and 10 assists.

Trophee des Champions (won in 2022)

📺 The highlights of our victory at the #TDC2022 ! 🏆🔴🔵

⚽️ Leo Messi
⚽️⚽️ @neymarjr
⚽️ @SergioRamos pic.twitter.com/zWRpevqfVu

— Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_English) July 31, 2022

Messi then went on to collect his second club honour with PSG last July as the Ligue 1 champions trounced Coupe de France winners Nantes 4-0 in Tel-Aviv.

Coupe de France (0 titles)

The Coupe de France is the one that got away for Messi, at least for the time being. In fairness, his only appearance in the competition came back in January 2022, when a strong PSG side were knocked out by Nice in the round of 16. The game finished goalless in regulation time and was eventually decided via penalties, with Les Aiglons winning 6-5 in the shootout. Messi, for the record, scored his spot kick.

ESPN’s Stats & Information Group contributed to this report.





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