Lionel Messi is not used to a goal drought, but the Barcelona captain’s last El Clasico strike against Real Madrid came over 900 days ago.
You have to go back to May 2018 to find the Argentine’s last goal in this fixture as Messi netted early on in the second half to give Barcelona the lead in their 2-2 draw at the Nou Camp.
The 33-year-old has broken Madrid hearts so many times in his career with 26 goals in 41 appearances against Los Blancos, but Zinedine Zidane’s side have done well in stopping Barcelona’s talisman in recent matches.
With the bitter rivals set to cross paths once again this Saturday, Sportsmail looks at how last season’s LaLiga champions have managed to stop one of the greatest players of all-time in the last five El Clasico matches…
Lionel Messi’s last El Clasico goal came over 900 days ago in a May 2018 LaLiga clash (above)
FEBRUARY 6, 2019: BARCELONA 1-1 REAL MADRID
For the first leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final clash against their arch-rivals, Messi was surprisingly named on the bench after suffering an injury scare in the week leading up to the game.
French winger Malcolm started in place of the Argentinian superstar and scored a wonderful second-half equaliser after Lucas Vazquez had put Madrid in front at the Nou Camp after just six minutes.
With the match deadlocked at 1-1, Messi was brought on with half an hour to play and Barcelona upped the ante following his introduction.
Messi (middle) was injured in the build-up to the El Clasico Copa del Rey clash in February 2019
Messi did manage to come off the bench for the final 30 minutes of the first-leg draw at home
But Real Madrid had prepared a game plan to stop the Barcelona talisman – and it mainly involved fouling the frightening forward.
Messi’s involvement was almost immediate as he picked Casemiro’s pocket on the edge of the area but was brought down by Toni Kroos. The Barcelona man picked himself up to take the free-kick but it hit the wall.
The Argentine then picked up in the ball in a similar scenario and tried to take on several Real Madrid defenders, but Raphael Varane stood firm to deny Messi from going clean through on goal.
It was not a vintage Messi performance, but that was understandable given he was not fully fit.
Messi, who looked off the pace, was fouled regularly by the Real Madrid players in his cameo
FEBRUARY 27, 2019: REAL MADRID 0-3 BARCELONA
There were no fitness problems for Messi for the second leg of the semi-final, as he returned to the starting line-up for the crunch cup clash at the Santiago Bernabeu.
While Barcelona ended up comfortable 3-0 winners at the home of their rivals, Messi struggled to influence the match as Los Blancos dominated the opening period.
Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen made crucial saves in the opening period to deny Karim Benzema and Vinicius, with the latter spurning several good opportunities throughout the match to get on the scoresheet.
Messi (right) returned to the starting line-up for the second leg against Madrid two weeks later
Messi was once again frustrated in front of goal but did have more chances to find the net
Messi’s only real moment of attacking brilliance came early in the second half when he picked out Gerard Pique with a delightful free-kick into the penalty area but the defender could only head over.
The night, however, belonged to Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele who were brilliant in the second period to give Barcelona victory.
Dembele crossed twice early in the second half for the Uruguayan forward to tap home, attacks that Messi was not involved in, while Suarez ran clear through on goal before being fouled in the area by Casemiro.
Messi, who normally takes spot kicks, allowed Suarez to complete his hat-trick from 12 yards to round off an incredible night at the Bernabeu for Barcelona.
Messi (right) stepped away from penalty duties to allow Luis Suarez (left) to score a hat-trick
MARCH 2, 2019: REAL MADRID 0-1 BARCELONA
A week after beating Madrid in the cup, Messi’s Barcelona returned to the Santiago Bernabeu for a league match that was won via Ivan Rakitic’s delightful first-half chip.
Messi was more involved in the attacking sense for the Catalans but still came away empty-handed due to some top defending by Dani Carvajal.
The Argentine had a brilliant chance to give Barcelona the lead as he ran through on goal but dinked the ball just past Thiabaut Courtois’ right-hand post. After Rakitic’s opener, Messi put a free-kick just inches over the bar as his set piece rattled the top of Courtois’ net.
Messi (left) was left empty-handed a week later at the Bernabeu but Barcelona still won 1-0
Messi was involved in a war of words with Sergio Ramos (left), who caught him in the face
Madrid captain Sergio Ramos then made it his business to frustrate the Argentine and appeared to catch the Barcelona talisman in the face in the closing minutes of the opening period.
After the break, Messi continued to threaten the Madrid defence but Carvajal was a man possessed in the second half.
The Real Madrid right back was on hand three times late on in the game to dispossess Messi just as he looked to break clear.
The Argentine nearly added a goal for himself, but curled an effort just inches wide of the post in stoppage time, though Barcelona held on for another Bernabeu win.
Messi found Real Madrid right back Dani Carvajal (right) in excellent defensive form that day
Caravajal (left) was on hand to stop Messi (middle) three times in the March 2019 encounter
DECEMBER 18, 2019: BARCELONA 0-0 REAL MADRID
In a largely forgettable El Clasico match-up last December, Messi was only denied from ending his three-game drought in this fixture by some crucial last-ditch defending from Real Madrid.
In the first half, Thiabaut Courtois palmed out Jordi Alba’s cross straight into the path of Messi, who diverted the ball goalwards only for Sergio Ramos to clear the ball off the line.
Later in the opening period, Luis Suarez crossed the ball for Messi in the six-yard box only for Ferland Mendy to nick the ball off his toes via a last-ditch tackle.
Messi had a shot cleared off the line by Ramos (second right) in a goalless draw last December
Messi was once again hounded out by Madrid’s players as neither side got on the scoresheet
After the break, Messi was frustrated by even more fouls from Real Madrid players as he looked to take on the backline.
It was Madrid who shaded the contest though, despite the goalless draw, as Gareth Bale’s second-half strike was ruled out for offside by VAR.
MARCH 1, 2020: REAL MADRID 2-0 BARCELONA
In a match that would go on to fire Real Madrid to the title, Messi was denied by more superb Real Madrid defending, notably from goalkeeper Courtois and Casemiro.
Real Madrid’s Brazilian midfielder intercepted a through ball to Messi that would have sent him clear through early on, before putting in a superb challenge to deny him a clear shot on goal in the first half.
Goalkeeper Courtois then made two crucial stops in the opening period to deny the Argentine from giving Barcelona the lead, including a superb two-handed one-on-one stop.
Goals from Vinicius (right) and Mariano allowed Real Madrid to march to the 2020 LaLiga title
Messi had two glorious chances stopped by goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois in the March clash
Casemiro then frustrated Messi by making niggling fouls on the Barcelona No 10 during the second period and made a rough, but fair, last-ditch challenge on the 33-year-old when he shaped to shoot after Vinicius had given Madrid the lead.
Messi’s big chance to equalise came late on as he went clear through on goal with only Courtois to beat, but a combination of challenges from Marcelo and Raphael Varane allowed the ball to run through to the Madrid goalkeeper.
That miss was crucial for Real Madrid, who sealed the win late on in stoppage time through Mariano’s counter-attacking goal.
Messi tried to score by going clear late on but Marcelo and Raphael Varane (left) stopped him
OCTOBER 24, 2020: BARCELONA VS REAL MADRID
So it’s been just over 900 days since Messi last broke Real Madrid hearts from a goalscoring perspective, meaning the Argentine is even more eager to get one over Barcelona’s arch-rivals this Saturday.
The Catalans captain comes into the game following a tumultuous summer both on and off-the-field – which nearly saw him sensationally depart the Nou Camp.
Messi will come up against rival Sergio Ramos in the Real Madrid defence, as the Spanish centre half is deemed fit enough to play in the El Clasico despite some injury doubts.
Though, as the Argentine has discovered before, Real Madrid possess several defensive challenges for him to overcome if he wants to end on the scoresheet once again.
Messi will be hoping for better luck in front of goal in this Saturday’s El Clasico clash