Recalling memorable moments, personalities and games from this week in LaLiga history…
11 January 2016: Messi moves to five Ballon d’Ors
There was tension at the Kongresshaus in Zurich on 11 January 2016 as the Ballon D’Or ceremony progressed. Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo had won the trophy in the two previous years, but Lionel Messi had led Barcelona to five trophies including LaLiga and Champions League during 2015. In the end the decision was clear, Messi won 41% of the votes cast, Ronaldo was second with 28%, and another Barça attacker Neymar third with 8%.
The mood among the trio was friendly, with Ronaldo saying at a shared news conference that “Messi’s left foot is pretty good, better than mine.” “I’d take both of his feet,” said Neymar, to smiles all around. “Cristiano has many great qualities, which every player would like to have,” said a gracious Messi, then 28 and at the peak of his powers, as he won a fifth Ballon D’Or. (He now has six, after winning again in 2019, when he won his 10th LaLiga title).
13 January 2019: Messi scores his 400th goal in LaLiga
2019 also saw Messi set even more personal records – with his 400th LaLiga goal arriving on 13 January, when a swish of his left boot sent the ball flying past Eibar goalkeeper Asier Riesgo during a 3-0 victory over the Basque side at the Camp Nou.
Luis Suarez got Barça’s other two goals that night, but as often around FC Barcelona, it was all about the team’s talismanic number 10. Blaugrana statisticians calculated that 327 of Messi’s first LaLiga 400 were scored with his favoured left foot, 58 finished with his right, 14 with his head and one had gone in off his hand. It took the Argentine, then 31 years old, just 435 LaLiga games to reach the mark. At the end of 2020, he is up to 451 LaLiga goals in 499 games, and still hungry for many more.
13 January 2018: Villarreal’s first LaLiga win at the Bernabeu
History was also made at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on 13 January 2018, although the majority of those present did not celebrate too much. Real Madrid dominated possession and managed 28 shots at goal over the 90 minute, but a number of excellent saves from Villarreal goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo kept it scoreless. Cristiano Ronaldo had 11 efforts at goal without success, including one shot from just three yards which the Portuguese poked uncharacteristically wide.
As the game moved towards added time, Madrid threw more players forward, but were caught on the break as a splendid Villarreal counter-attack was finished sweetly by Pablo Fornals. Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane could not believe what he was seeing, as his reigning LaLiga title holders fell 16 points behind leaders and 2018-19 champions elect Barcelona.
15 January 2006: A collectors item for Zidane against Sevilla
Zidane had a happier day at the Bernabeu on 15 January 2006, when Sevilla arrived for a top of the table LaLiga clash. The Frenchman set up teammate Guti for Madrid’s opening goal, only for Sevilla’s Brazilian striker Luis Fabiano to smash in an equaliser after half-time.
Zidane restored Madrid’s lead from the penalty spot, before Guti repaid his earlier assist with a sensational back-heel which freed the Frenchman inside the area to make it 3-1 by firing confidently to the top corner. Sevilla kept battling, and the Andalusians’ defender Aitor Ocio pulled one back at a set-piece. Zidane would not be denied though, and slammed in a left-footed shot from the edge of the area to complete the scoring, and complete the only LaLiga hat-trick of the galactico’s career.