Messi Data Biography: 15 Seasons Now Complete and Available

By James Yorke | December 19, 2019 | 2 minute read

Messi Data Biography: 15 Seasons Now Complete and Available

Back in the summer, we launched the Messi Data Biography.

This was huge undertaking with the intent of collecting and coding up Lionel Messi’s entire La Liga career at Barcelona. Video was sourced from the early days and we ended up releasing the data for free, public, non-commercial use via our datahub for the seasons 2004-05 to 2015-16. We are now able to finish the job and as of today the last three seasons: 2016-17 , 2017-18 and 2018-19 are available.

That’s right: Lionel Messi’s La Liga career is available for free from us in a data format.

All you have to do to get access is sign up via our resource centre and then go pull the data via your program of choice. Want to get stuck right into the data quickly? StatsBomb R is a great package that helps and we have got full R primers in English and Spanish available that can help anyone and everyone on the road to analysis nirvana. Remember: data skills will be in demand in the future across many sports, and this is a great opportunity to get your hands on a large dataset of industry-leading standard data and work with it.

These last three seasons that we have released today were a time of transition for Barcelona with the departure of Neymar and Luis Enrique at the end of 2016-17 and a rare second placed La Liga finish despite 90 points. The knock on effect of the Neymar transfer perhaps still resonates today as Barcelona have attempted to fill the third attacking slot alongside Messi and Luis Suárez. In a post Neymar world, back to back La Liga titles have been secured, but with a backdrop of fewer goals being scored, 116 in 2016-17, 99 in 2017-18 and 90 in 2018-19. However for Messi, the goal contributions have continued at a solid pace:

It’s possible to even argue that the post-Neymar Barcelona has seen more goal responsibility on Messi’s shoulders and his rates and contribution–prior to 2019-20–have increased both in expectation and reality. While Barcelona’s form might appear less electric in recent years, Messi himself is yet to show any distinct signs of slowing down, albeit in 2019-20 his shot volume is lower than any season in a decade. Fortunately, so far, so far his expected assist rate (0.60 per 90) and actual assist rate (0.53 per 90) are higher than any full season… a little from column A, a little from column B, either way Messi is there at the business end of the pitch.

We can also see that in a variety of pass related metrics:

Just very reliable. The argument can be made that Barcelona’s whole effectiveness is lesser than some years back, but Messi remains extremely consistent in nearly everything he does.

One thing he’s perhaps become more consistent in is direct free kicks. There’s no doubt that Messi can be classed as one of the all time great free kick takers, but his skill and execution in this areas has reached new heights during this recent period:

18 direct free kicks in La Liga from 137 shots in a shade over three seasons. This contrasts with a “before” of 17 direct free kicks from 213 attempts. Scoring free kicks at a 13% clip compared to 8% before. It’s incomparable, even to his own former self.

Hopefully this has given you a flavour of the Messi data. There are now 15 seasons of Messi La Liga data freely available to play with.

We look forward to seeing what you do with it.

Also; if you’re a media entity and want to write about Messi with a data angle. Get in touch:

By James Yorke | December 19, 2019