Leo Messi’s 2011-12 season still haunts him. Stalks him, really, like an overgrown shadow. Messi set a European record with 73 goals that season, including 50 in La Liga. He scored five goals in a Champions League win over Bayer Leverkusen. He became the first player to ever register a goal and an assist in six competitions in one season. He won a Copa del Rey.
In all likelihood, he’ll never do that again. In lieu of heavy rule changes that tilt the game even further in favor of attackers, we may not see a year like that repeated in our lifetimes. By anyone. And yet Messi is continually measured against it, and the sum of each of his seasons since has come up short. Naturally. Of course they have.