Barcelona continued their fantastic run of form earlier today with a resounding 6-1 victory over Rayo Vallecano. The win, combined with Real Madrid’s 1-0 defeat to Athletic Bilbao on Saturday, means Barcelona are now in sole possession of first place in La Liga.
Since their disappointing 1-0 defeat to Real Sociedad in early January, Barcelona have now won fifteen out of sixteen matches in all competitions, while outscoring their opponents, 56-13. They have advanced to the Copa del Rey final and are on the brink of reaching the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals after securing a 2-1 victory at Manchester City in late February.
The rejuvenated efforts of Lionel Messi have been the major reason for the team’s recent successes.
Today – after notching a 12 minute hat-trick against Rayo Vallecano – Messi joined Cristiano Ronaldo as La Liga’s top goalscorer, with both players standing on 30 goals. The Argentina international has made up a twelve-goal difference between the forwards in the last three months.
The hat-trick also means the Argentine now has the most three-goal performances (32) in the history of Spanish football, surpassing former Athletic Bilbao forward Telmo Zarra.
Since being benched against Real Sociedad, Messi has put aside his reported differences with manager Luis Enrique and has helped guide Barcelona back to the top of La Liga.
In the club’s last sixteen games, Messi has tallied 18 goals and 11 assists.
What also can’t be ignored is the recent form of Luis Suarez.
The former Liverpool striker came under criticism from a section of fans and the media after getting off to what many felt was a slow start in Spain. Despite the fact the player’s teammates and manager insisted the Uruguayan was meeting the team’s expectations of him.
However, Suarez has quieted his critics after scoring seven times in his last six matches. Perhaps his biggest contribution to date was the forward’s brace against Manchester City during the first leg of the Champions League Round of 16. That performance means Barcelona are now at a decisive advantage to progress to the next round of the knockout stages.
The Uruguayan striker’s La Liga tally now stands at nine goals and nine assists in eighteen matches. But Suarez recent form suggests those numbers will increase significantly before the end of the season.
Barcelona will now prepare for matches against Eibar and Manchester City, before their second El Clasico showdown with Real Madrid on March 22nd.
Unless Madrid can shake off their recent poor performances – especially against the league’s top clubs – there doesn’t appear to be anything that can slow down Barcelona’s momentum and prevent La Blaugrana from reclaiming the La Liga crown at the end of the season.
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