Free-kick battle: Ronald Koeman vs Lionel Messi

Highlights – Hannover 96 vs TSG 1899 Hoffenheim

Ronald Koeman and Lionel Messi, two Barcelona greats who happen to be particularly gifted from dead-ball situations.

Messi equalled Koeman’s record for free-kicks scored for Barca when he found the back of the net in Sunday’s 5-0 triumph over Espanyol. The goal was Messi’s seventh via a free-kick this season, and has 23 in total, equalling the mark set by Koeman.

The Argentina international had to bide his time before he was able to take over the free-kick taking duties for the Catalan club, with the likes Ronaldinho, Thierry Henry and Xavi Hernandez having previously performed the role.

It’s hard to compare players from such different eras, but Barcelona have done us all a favour by recounting the free-kicks scored by both men…

While Koeman was all about power, Messi has revealed variation is key for him.

“To be honest, I like to hit the ball over the players’ wall but from time to time I like to mix it up a little bit so that the goalkeeper doesn’t know where I’m going and I want to keep him confused until I kick,” Messi told ESPN.

“I think for that reason, I like to keep the goalkeeper in doubt.”