Thursday 14 December 2017

Incredible Messi on brink of yet another goalscoring record

Barcelona's Lionel Messi. Photo: REUTERS/Albert Gea
Barcelona's Lionel Messi. Photo: REUTERS/Albert Gea

LIONEL MESSI goes into Barcelona's Primera Division clash at Celta Vigo tomorrow on the brink of another incredible record.

The Argentinian has scored in his last 18 consecutive league matches and, should he find the net again tomorrow, would become the first man ever to score in successive games against every team in the Spanish top flight.

Those 18 games have brought 28 goals, helping the Catalans hold a 13-point lead over bitter rivals Real Madrid at the top of the standings.

Celta shut out Messi, if not Barca, in the reverse fixture at the Nou Camp last November, which the hosts won 3-1, but young winger Cristian Tello reckons they will be a tough nut to crack.

"We are very focused on the league," he said. "Each match is a final for us, and we want to win as many points as possible. Celta are fighting for their lives and they will be a difficult rival to defeat."

Barcelona have been boosted this week by the return from the United States of coach Tito Vilanova, who has spent the past two months in New York undergoing cancer treatment.

Matchday responsibilities will remain with his assistant Jordi Roura as Vilanova continues his recovery, however, and Tello is happy for Roura to remain in caretaker charge.

"He's done a spectacular job. He's continued on with the team and he's delivered as the acting manager," he said.

Celta coach Abel Resino thinks his side are facing Barcelona at a good time, with the Catalans facing the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final away to Paris St Germain on Tuesday and missing several players through injury and suspension.

Xavi, Carles Puyol, Adriano, Jordi Alba and Pedro are all injured, while Victor Valdes is banned, meaning Jose Manuel Pinto will be in goal on his return to his former club.

Key midfielder Xavi could miss the trip to Paris, with the club claiming "his availability for the next match will depend on his recovery".

Resino, whose side are second bottom of the table, three points from safety, said: "Barca will bring a competitive team, but it certainly would be a good time to play against Barcelona.

"In addition to come with some casualties, they come to play after a tough match with the national team (Spain won 1-0 away to France in their World Cup qualifier on Tuesday) and are before a very important game because they play to progress in the Champions League."

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