Barcelona 3-0 Athletic Club: Paco Alcacer and Aleix Vidal both got rare goals while Messi broke yet another club record
After a week that focused on Barcelona having been robbed by a phantom goal, a comfortable 3-0 win laid those ghosts to rest – for now – and kept the defending La Liga champions on the heels of leaders Real Madrid.
Coasting to a 3-0 home win over Athletic Bilbao on Saturday, Luis Enrique’s men buried the Basques and saw superstar number 10 Lionel Messi become the club’s top scorer from free kicks.
Paco Alcacer, finally, scored his first league goal since joining from Valencia last year by turning in a pass from Neymar in the 18th minute. It was the sort of finish we had come to expect from the centre-forward whose early months at the Nou Camp have been nothing short of a disaster. The hope will be that, having broken his Liga duck, he can find some rhythm and form as Barca attempt to chase down Madrid.
Messi then whipped in an angled strike in the 40th minute, his 27th goal from a free kick for Barca, to break a club record.
Aleix Vidal scored the most impressive goal of the game by finishing off an audacious solo run and help further his rehabilitation into the squad.
Luis Enrique had made six changes to the team that beat Atletico Madrid 2-1 in Wednesday’s King’s Cup semi-final first leg, resting top scorer Luis Suarez, and it looked a risky move as Athletic made a bold start, although the hosts’ quality soon shone through.
Barca stayed second in the standings, moving one point behind Real Madrid but have played two games fewer than the leaders, who are due to visit Celta Vigo on Sunday although the game is in danger of being postponed due to extreme weather conditions.
Third-placed Sevilla visit Las Palmas on Sunday and Atletico Madrid host Leganes later on Saturday.
Atlético Madrid vs Barcelona(Lionel Messi): The Barcelona forward will get a chance to add to his impressive tally of 26 career goals against Atletico on Sunday, when a victory at the Vicente Calderon Stadium could move the defending champions ahead of Real Madrid for the first time in months.
Messi has been averaging a goal per game in all competitions and has scored 34 times this season. One of those came against Atletico in this year’s Copa del Rey.
The 29-year-old Argentina captain has not gone two consecutive games without scoring since early September, and is the league’s leading scorer with 19 goals — one more than teammate Luis Suarez. He has scored 10 times in his last nine league games, and has 11 goals in 14 matches overall in 2017.
If Barcelona beats fourth-place Atletico, Messi will earn his 400th career victory with the Catalan club. He has 399 wins, 64 losses and 102 draws in all competitions since his official debut in 2004.
Here are the match summary of Barcelona:
Atletico Madrid to win: 2/1
Barcelona to win: 23/17