Two goals from Leo Messi against Eibar on Saturday saw Barcelona maintain their lead over Real Madrid in the Spanish League with a week to go until el clasico.
Lacking Dani Alves, Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets, the former through suspension and the latter through injury, Luis Enrique was forced to field a slightly unfamiliar squad but despite dominating possession the Catalans were unable to penetrate Eibar’s defence, which remained solid when under attack. On the other hand the home side barely threatened Barcelona’s goal either.
But when the ball was handled inside the Eibar area Barcelona was finally able to break the impasse and Messi scored from the spot; it was his 31st league goal of the season and put him ahead of Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo.
Messi’s second goal came 10 minutes into the second half when Messi headed the ball into the Eibar net from a corner. The remainder of the match was rather lacklustre and while both sides had a chance to score in the closing minutes of the match, there was a distinct lack of excitement.
0-1 Messi (min 30)
0-2 Messi (min 55)
Barcelona took the top spot in the Spanish League on Sunday following Real Madrid’s defeat by Athletic Bilbao on Saturday. The points drop by the league leader meant the Catalans had a serious chance of knocking them off their perch when they faced Rayo Vallecano in an unusual midday start.
The knowledge that a win will make such a big difference brings with it a pressure of its own and although Suarez opened the scoring 5 minutes in, the result was far from sealed as the half time whistle blew, with just a single goal scored in the first half.
The second half was different entirely, as Pique scored Barcelona’s second goal two minutes in and when Suarez was brought down in the area Messi scored from the spot after a retake, the first goal of his latest hat-trick. That incident also saw Tito expelled, and the from that point on the match could only go one way. Messi’s second goal came minutes later he completed his hat-trick 12 minutes after his first goal from a Pedro assist.
Alves was expelled with 10 minutes on the clock and handing Rayo a goal from the penalty spot, but the game was already sealed. It was only left for Suarez to score his second of the afternoon to put the icing on the cake to celebrate toppling Madrid from the league top spot.
1-0 Suárez (min 5)
2-0 Piqué (min 47)
3-0 Messi (min 54)
4-0 Messi (min 61)
5-0 Messi (min 66)
5-1 Bueno (min 79)
6-1 Suárez (min 90)
With Granada having won just three game this season and with the goal tally of the entire squad less than Messi on his own, Luis Enrique opted to rest some key players ahead of the Copa del Rey semi-final on Wednesday. There seemed little credible threat from Granada and the squad just needed to do enough to take home three points and close the gap with Real Madrid.
Slow to get going, Rakitic opened the scoring 25 minutes in when the ball was deflected his way off a shot from Suarez and the first half ended with Barcelona a goal up. Back on after the break it took just a few minutes for Suarez to score off a Rakitic assist, although soon after Bartra fouled Lass inside the area and Granada were awarded a penalty and Fran Rico put the ball into the net from the spot.
Meanwhile the Catalans continued to push and were rewarded in the 70th minute when Rakitic and Suarez set up Messi for goal number three for Barça. Not a vintage match at all, but the squad did enough to close in on Madrid again.
0-1 Rakitic (min 25)
0-2 Suárez (min 48)
1-2 Fran Rico (min 53)
1-3 Messi (min 70)
A hat-trick from Messi and one each from Neymar and Suarez saw Barcelona dominate at the Nou Camp on Sunday evening when they played host to Levante, placed forth from bottom going into the weekend. Early on both teams created opportunities, but it was just after the quarter hour mark that Neymar managed to reach the back of the Levante net over the head of the visiting keeper.
Levante didn’t give up though and came close to equalising before Messi put the ball home at the 37th minute off a Bartra assist and came close to scoring again just before the half time whistle. Back on after the break it was clear that the Catalans had greater stamina and as time went on it looked increasingly like Barcelona would score again. At 58 minutes the goal came when Messi scored his second of the match, assisted by Pedro, and when Neymar was brought down inside the area Messi made it a hat-trick at the 64th minute from the penalty spot.
Suarez was brought on in place of Neymar for the last 25 minutes of the match and quickly made his mark off an Adriano assist, in a spectacular move that found the Levante net.
1-0 16′ Neymar (min 16)
2-0 37′ Messi (min 37)
3-0 58′ Messi (min 58)
4-0 64′ Messi (min 64)
5-0 72′ Suárez (min 72)
Barcelona made sure of this first leg of the Copa del Rey semi-final last night at the Nou Camp with a steady 3-1 win against Villarreal and making it difficult for their visitor to realistically go through to the final.
With high possession from the outset Barcelona struggled to make their control of the game count though, until a 40th minute goal by Messi saw the Catalans go into the break ahead.
Minutes into the second half and Villarreal equalised thanks to Manu Trigueros, but Iniesta cut short that celebration by scoring Barça’s second of the night immediately after. Pique sealed thew victory for Barcelona in the 64th minute, giving Barcelona a clear advantage going into the away leg on 4th March.
1-0 Messi (min 40)
1-1 Manu Trigueros (min 48)
2-1 Iniesta (min 49)
3-1 Piqué (min 64)
With Real Madrid’s dramatic defeat in the Madrid derby on Saturday, all eyes were on FC Barcelona, who travelled to the Basque Country on Sunday to play Athletic Bilbao. While Barça’s fans may have hoped for their club to walk away with three points in the bag, few could have predicted they do it so dramatically.
The match started with both teams keen to score the opener and while the hosts came close, it was Messi who scored first from a free kick. The pace continued frantically in the aftermath, but again it was Barcelona who managed to capitalise on the situation when Suarez knocked the ball home from the edge of the area off a Messi assist. Despite being two goals ahead, the pace continued and both sides continued to created opportunities although they came to nothing and the Catalans went into the break 2-0 ahead.
Twelve minutes into the second half Athletic finally scored when Mikel Rico put the ball into the Barcelona net on the rebound and started a period of frenetic goal scoring. Minutes later De Marcos put the ball into his own net to open up Barcelona’s lead again and Neymar scored again two minutes after that. But two minutes later Aduriz scored a second goal for Athletic.
Any hopes that the hosts had to turn the match around though were dashed when Xabier Etxeita was shown a red card for kicking Suarez hard in the knee. When he did come back on briefly after treatment, Pedro came in in his place and soon made his mark, with the final goal of the match just minutes from the end.
0-1 Messi (min 14)
0-2 Suárez (min 25)
1-2 Mikel Rico (min 57)
1-3 De Marcos (og) (min 60)
1-4 Neymar (min 62)
2-4 Aduriz (min 64)
2-5 Pedro (min 84)
Villarreal went ahead twice at the Nou Camp on Sunday, only for Barcelona to claw back an equaliser each time and then, in the space of a few minutes, secure victory. Suarez looked to be on form early in the match, coming close to opening the scoring inside the first quarter hour.
In the end it was the visitors who scored the opener at the half hour mark when Cheryshev got his foot to the ball and get it past an already diving Bravo. However, the two sides went into the break level, after Neymar scored off a Rafinha rebound just before the end of the first half.
Back on for the second half and it took just a few minutes for Villarreal to go ahead again, after Vietto scored off a Giovani assist. The deafening silence of the Nou Camp didn’t last long though, when Rafinha scored Barça’s second of the night just two minutes later. The crowd had hardly settled down when Messi scored in the 53rd minutes to put Barcelona ahead and secure three more points for the club.
Villarreal will visit the Nou Camp again week when they play Barça in the Copa del Rey semi-final first leg.
0-1 Cheryshev (min 29)
1-1 Neymar (min 44)
1-2 Vietto (min 49)
2-2 Rafinha (min 51)
3-2 Messi (min 53)
Two goals each from Messi and Neymar and one each from Pique and Pedro saw Barcelona spectacularly take apart Elche on Saturday. Despite some pressure from Elche early on that saw the hosts coming close to going ahead, Pique scored the opener after 34 minutes.
With Barcelona facing Atletico on Wednesday in the Copa del Rey, Luis Enrique chose to start a number of key players on the bench and it took a while for Barça to find their rhythm, with Pique’s goal coming off a free kick by Xavi just outside the area. Going into the break though the squad must have been disappointed at being a single goal ahead.
The second half started with Elche looking renewed, but when Neymar was fouled inside the box Messi made sure to score from the penalty spot. The Catalans were helped when Fajr was given his marching orders by the ref and soon after Neymar scored Barcelona’s third, followed shortly after by the fourth; both goals were set up by Messi.
With just minutes to go for the final whistle Messi scored his second of the night to put Barça on 5. That would have been enough, but Pedro scored at the last minute off a Neymar assist to make the final score 6-0 to Barcelona.
0-1 Piqué (min 34)
0-2 Messi (min 53)
0-3 Neymar (min 67)
0-4 Neymar (min 69)
0-5 Messi (min 86)
0-6 Pedro (min 91)
In a match that saw Barcelona and Atletico fighting with all their might, it was Messi who scored off the rebound after a penalty just seven minutes from the end.
While Barça dominated possession, they were unable to break through the Atletico defence and when the visitors created chances, they also failed to get through. However, the deciding point came towards the end of the match when a free kick by Messi resulted in Busquets being bought down in the area and a penalty awarded to the Catalans and go into next week’s match with a slight advantage.
1-0 Messi (min 83)
A hat-trick from Leo Messi on Sunday night helped seal another win for Barça when they played Deportivo de la Coruña. This was Messi’s twenty-second league hat-trick, just one less than Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Argentine scored the opener ten minutes in when he headed the ball into the net off an assist by Ivan Rakitic. Suarez had a good chance to go further ahead, but put it wide but just after the half hour mark Neymar fed Messi the ball for the second of the night.
The next came a little after a quarter hour into the second half, when Rakitic created another opportunity for Messi, who ran into the penalty area and shot the ball into the net. With the match well and truly under control the pace slackened for a while, but as the end of the match approached so did the pressure from Barcelona. Although Messi came to scoring again, it was not to be and the final goal of the match was an own goal by Sidnei after a mix-up in the Deportivo defence.
0-1 Messi (min 10)
0-2 Messi (min 33)
0-3 Messi (min 62)
0-4 Sidnei (min 83)