There’s No stopping Barca as Messi in La Liga

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Updated: January 22, 2018

The Spanish leaders extended their commanding lead at the top of the Primera Division with a 5-0 win at Betis and surely nobody can catch up now

There was a glimmer of hope for Barcelona’s rivals. When Ernesto Valverde’s side lost to Espanyol in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday night, it perhaps proved that the Liga leaders are beatable after all. A trip to in-form Betis on Sunday looked likely to be a tough test.

Betis had recently beaten city rivals Sevilla 5-3 in the derby at the Sanchez Pizjuan and, after Messi missed a penalty in the 1-0 loss at Espanyol, their coach Quique Setien said: “Let’s see if that guy who decides so many matches comes here thinking more about the Copa and gives us a chance.”

Alas, that was not to be for Betis nor for Setien, whose other pre-match quote on the Argentine turned out to be closer to the truth. “Nobody can stop him,” he said. “Even though we all know he is the most decisive player…”

The first of those was for Ivan Rakitic, the Croatian midfielder racing through to slot home his fifth goal against Betis in La Liga. As a former Sevilla player, it clearly meant a lot.

Suarez set that one up and the former Liverpool striker scored two himself to make it seven matches in a row in La Liga. So off form earlier this season, he has now become only the second Uruguayan to score 100 times in La Liga (after Diego Forlan) and is clearly back to his brilliant best for Barca.

Messi also netted a double and made it to 25 goals for the 10th season in a row, a record that is likely to be levelled soon by Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo (on 18 this term).

The Argentine’s assist for Suarez means he has set up goals for five successive games in La Liga for the first time in his career. And in the Primera Division it is now 54 points for Barca after 20 fixtures, with 17 wins and three draws and a goal difference of +48.

Wherever you look, it is hugely impressive and it is difficult to see any side stopping Barca now. Atletico, in second, are 11 points behind after their draw with Girona on Saturday, while Valencia are 14 back and Real Madrid 19 adrift.

Zinedine Zidane’s side still have a game in hand, but it would take a miracle now for Los Blancos to catch their fierce rivals in La Liga. Atletico and Valencia are also well adrift and surely now it is a question of how many points Barca will win by, not whether they will win it?

Attentions now turn to the Copa del Rey for Barca, as they seek to overturn the 1-0 deficit against Espanyol at Camp Nou this week. But with Messi and Suarez in such fine fettle and Valverde’s men conceding so little at the back, it should not be too much of a problem.

Indeed, if any team are to stop Messi and Barca this season, it is certainly going to take something special.

Ezekiel Azure Zion is a sports writer and a blogger who loves what he does.

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