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Expect more goals from Messi against AC Milan

On Wednesday, Barcelona and AC Milan, historically two of European football’s top clubs, meet in the Champions League Round of 16. Although the match is being played at the San Siro in Milan, Barcelona is a heavy favorite due to the the little man from Rosario, Argentina – Lionel Messi.

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Lionel Messi continued his amazing goal-scoring form against Granada on Saturday. (AP)

Over the weekend, Messi reached yet another milestone by scoring his 300th goal for Barcelona. As is seemingly customary for the best player in the world, he passed the milestone as quickly as he reached it. With his team down 1-0, Messi leveled the score with a rebounded effort for goal No. 300. Before analysts were able to relish in the great feat, the 25-year-old struck a stunning game-winning free-kick to reach 301 goals in 365 official games for Barcelona – a scoring rate of 0.82 goals per match.

With Saturday’s double against Granada, Messi’s Spanish league tally reached 37 goals in 24 appearances this term – a scoring rate of 1.54 goals per match. His closest competitor in Spain remains the unrelenting Cristiano Ronaldo, but the Portuguese superstar trails by 13 league goals in this season’s race for the Pichichi trophy. Yet again, Messi is a grade above the man most often considered his only competition.

Across Europe’s top five leagues, Messi’s record of 37 goals after 24 rounds of the domestic league is miles ahead of the competition. Apart from Ronaldo, only Zlatan Ibrahimovic – 21 Ligue 1 goals after 26 rounds – has over 20 goals on the season.

In England, Manchester United’s Robin Van Persie leads the domestic league race with 19 goals, but the Premier League has completed 26 rounds of play – two more than Spain. This means the “flea” can tally twice as many league goals as the top English Premier League scorer if he only scores one goal in his next two domestic matches. Van Persie has been great for Manchester United this season, but Messi is literally worth twice as many goals.

On Wednesday, however, Messi and Barcelona turn their focus to the Champions League, where the Argentinean has five goals this term. Ronaldo leads Europe with seven Champions League goals, but Real Madrid has already played one extra match.

AccuScore played out Wednesday’s match between Milan and Barcelona 10,000 times, and Messi scored at least one goal in 72 percent of simulations and averaged 1.22 goals. This means that if Milan and Barcelona played at the San Siro four times, Messi is projected to score in three of those matches. Also, when he scores, he has a habit of scoring multiple goals.

Most Likely Scorers (AccuScore)

Probability of Scoring

Messi

72%

Mandzukic

45%

Drogba

44%

Muller

39%

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