Lionel Messi put Tottenham to the sword… but what is the greatest Champions League performance?


Lionel Messi put Tottenham to the sword on Wednesday night in what is arguably one of his best-ever Champions League displays. 

The Argentine magician pulled all the strings at Wembley to ensure Barcelona came away with all three points – but was it his best performance in the competition? Moreover, was it one of the best displays of all time?

Here, Sportsmail’s experts give their opinion on the best performances they have ever seen live at the stadium.

Rooney had just signed for United from Everton and was the most talked about young footballer in the world. 

This was his Champions League debut and United debut. How would he fare? Would he live up to the hype? 

Rooney scored a hat-trick and won the game on his own. Questions answered.

Oasis were playing nearby on the same night but there was only one headline act in town, and that was Tino. Wow, what a night. 

A hat-trick against the mighty Barcelona and the Colombian was at his spring-heeled best. 

His two towering headers were simply majestic and the somersault celebrations weren’t bad either.

Time can distort your memory and play tricks with your imagination but seeing Zinedine Zidane score his goal, a gift from the Gods, at Hampden Park in the 2002 Champions League final is a stand-out memory.

It’s hard to recall the rest of the performance when something so outrageous and extraordinary freezes a moment.

The ball looped in from the left, high and swirling and he executed a volley that screamed away from his boot with such swerve, pace and accuracy. It felt a privilege to be in the presence of greatness. 

You can tell by the reaction of the Real Madrid No 5 that he knew people would be replaying the video for many decades to come.

I’ve been lucky enough to watch Lionel Messi live a few times now, including at Wembley on Wednesday night. It was like watching a computer game. You couldn’t take your eyes off Messi, even when he didn’t have the ball. But it is narrowly pipped by seeing him batter Bayern.

For 77 minutes, Pep Guardiola – in his first game back at the Nou Camp – had drilled his Bayern team to a 0-0 stalemate with a defensive performance borrowed from Jose Mourinho’s handbook. 

By full time, Barcelona were 3-0 up thanks to two stunning Messi goals (including leaving Jerome Boateng on his backside) and one assist for Neymar. Just 13 minutes required for maximum carnage. Brutal and breathtaking. 

It’s always Messi: just which one? Is it the night he toyed with Arsenal at the Nou Camp with four goals, all joyous, in 2010? 

Or is at when he took the stage at Wembley the following year and Barcelona, led by Messi, took apart a really good Manchester United side in the Champions League final. 

I’d pump for the latter because of the magnitude of the occasion and quality of the opposition. 

I’m probably forgetting a glaring one, but Busquets’ almost effortless performance in midfield in last season’s win over Chelsea in the Nou Camp sticks in my mind. 

It wasn’t explosive nor terribly spectacular but for the football purist it was pure poetry in motion. Pass, pass, pass. Absolutely dictated the game from the centre circle. 

Lionel Messi scored twice that night and was also a joy to watch – but Busquets stole the show. 

The original Ronaldo gave a supreme centre-forward performance when scoring a hat-trick at Old Trafford in 2003.

As an impressionable, partisan teenager I tried to heckle the Brazilian as ‘past it’ before kick off. By the time he was taken off I had risen, along with everyone else in the ground, to applaud him to the touchline.

It was his speed of thought and ease of finishing that radiated even as he entered the twilight of his career, and even as he shared a pitch with some of the best footballers Manchester United have had. 

Lionel Messi again. Four goals to blow Arsenal away, his reaction to Nicklas Bendtner who had the audacity to score first in the Nou Camp. A supreme display. Just pips Gareth Bale at White Hart Lane against Inter.


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