Lionel Messi Puts 1 Hand on La Liga Trophy with Double Against Sporting Gijon

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Lionel Messi Puts 1 Hand on La Liga Trophy with Double Against Sporting Gijon
Denis Doyle/Getty Images

The 9,000th goal in FC Barcelona history was scored by Lionel Messi in March 2010. He scored the club's 10,000th on Wednesday night, his second of the game, as Barcelona beat Sporting Gijon 3-1 at El Molinon.

In that period, Barcelona have won La Liga four times, the UEFA Champions League twice, the Copa del Rey twice, the Spanish Super Cup three times, the FIFA Club World Cup twice and the UEFA Super Cup twice.

Messi has been a constant throughout. He has won Barcelona trophies individually. He has helped the team thrive over these years.

It seems the Argentinian can't walk onto a pitch without breaking some sort of record these days.

MIGUEL RIOPA/Getty Images

Not only did he help Barcelona hit that historic team milestone, but he also scored his 300th and 301st Primera Division goals, more than any other player has managed. All in a day's work.

However, Messi demonstrated he does not care about goal statistics by passing team-mate Luis Suarez the ball from the penalty spot in the 6-1 in over Celta Vigo on Sunday.

And against Sporting, he let Suarez take a penalty himself, although the Uruguayan went on to miss.

The only numbers Messi cares about are the ones the league table consists of. And right now, they make for good reading.

MIGUEL RIOPA/Getty Images

Barcelona are six points clear of Atletico Madrid in second and seven ahead of Real Madrid in third, with all the teams in the table having played 24 games.

What's more, having beaten Atletico twice, that's effectively seven points because if the teams finish equal at the end of the season, Barcelona will edge ahead on head-to-head records.

It's also likely that applies to Madrid too after Barca thrashed Los Blancos 4-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu in November, effectively turning seven points to eight unless Zinedine Zidane's men can gain some spectacular revenge at the Camp Nou in April.

Wednesday's victory over Sporting Gijon effectively put one of Barcelona's hands on La Liga. It would take a spectacular fall for them to let things slip from here.

Alvaro Barrientos/Associated Press

It was always going to be after this game that the table could appear more truthful. It should have been played in Week 16, but Barcelona were in Japan for the Club World Cup, so it was put back.

El Molinon isn't the easiest place to go, and Sporting made life difficult for Barcelona, but in the end Messi helped them surge to victory and give a true reflection of the table.

Suarez also played his part, providing Messi with the ball for the first two goals before rattling home the third himself with a rasping shot from the right.

The Uruguayan was in bullish form up front, not giving the defence a moment's rest.

Alvaro Barrientos/Associated Press

Neymar dazzled less, with the Brazilian not in his finest spell of individual form. That doesn't mean his level has dipped significantly, though; anyone just has to watch his contribution to Barcelona's final 20 minutes against Celta Vigo to see he is still hugely impressive.

Against Sporting, he earned the team a penalty after he raced through and was taken out by goalkeeper Ivan Cuellar.

There are a few other issues for Barcelona, starting with Sergio Busquets' suspension for Saturday's trip to Las Palmas, along with Dani Alves' form.

But these are minor problems for Luis Enrique and his men to overcome. Having reached the Copa del Rey final already and now stretching clear in La Liga, can anyone stop Barcelona?

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