Paris Saint-Germain‘s Lionel Messi will be out to extend a remarkable Champions League record when the Ligue 1 champions open their new European campaign at home to Juventus on Tuesday night in Group H.
The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner struggled to replicate his goalscoring form of old during his maiden season in Paris but still managed 11 goals and 15 assists from 34 games in all tournaments.
Five of Messi’s strikes last season came in the Champions League, where Mauricio Pochettino‘s men suffered a last-16 capitulation against eventual winners Real Madrid, losing 3-2 on aggregate.
Messi has started life under Christophe Galtier in strong form this term, scoring three goals and setting up six more in six Ligue 1 outings, in addition to netting in the Trophee des Champions success over Nantes.
By netting against Manchester City, Club Brugge and RB Leipzig last season, Messi extended his Champions League group-stage goal tally to 76, and he will be aiming to steer further clear of the chasing pack in that category this week.
Unsurprisingly, Cristiano Ronaldo is the closest behind his long-time rival with 73 group-stage goals, but the Manchester United man will be playing Europa League football this season after failing to force a summer move away.
Further down the list, Real Madrid talisman Karim Benzema and Barcelona’s Robert Lewandowski sit joint third with 56 apiece and will be aiming to close the gap on Ronaldo in the coming months.
Messi – who will play his 82nd Champions League group-stage game if he features in midweek – has now amassed a total of 15 goals and 21 assists in 41 appearances for PSG since arriving from Barcelona last year.
Since taking over from Pochettino in the summer, Galtier has led PSG to 16 points from a possible 18 in the 2022-23 Ligue 1 season, and the champions are clear of second-placed Marseille on goal difference.
Messi provided two assists to Kylian Mbappe as Les Parisiens continued their strong form with a 3-0 success over Nantes on Saturday, where Nuno Mendes was also on target.
However, performances against Juventus have been hard to come by for PSG, who have failed to beat the Old Lady in any of their previous eight competitive showdowns.
Since playing out a pair of draws with Juve in the 1983-84 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, PSG have suffered six straight defeats to the Italian giants, but they are yet to lock horns in the Champions League.
In fact, PSG and Juventus’ most recent meeting came in the two-legged final of the 1996-97 UEFA Super Cup, where the Bianconeri got their hands on the trophy courtesy of a 9-2 aggregate success.
Les Parisiens will also be pitting their wits against Benfica and Maccabi Haifa in Group H of the Champions League, travelling to face the Israeli side on September 14 before a date with Benfica at the Estadio da Luz on October 5.