Messi Scores His 200th Liga Goal, Barca Wins, Real Madrid Next

Xoel Cardenas@@XoelCardenasContributor IIIJanuary 27, 2013

Messi Scores His 200th Liga Goal, Barca Wins, Real Madrid Next

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    Lionel Messi bagged four goals as FC Barcelona dominated CA Osasuna 5-1 at the Camp Nou on Sunday. Barça now prepare to take on Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey semifinal this Wednesday.

    Thiago had the first chance for el blaugrana when a nice long pass from Carles Puyol found Thiago, but the kid couldn't get the lob shot right as Osasuna goalkeeper Andres Fernandez stopped the shot.

    Messi got his goal in the 11th minute when Xavi's smooth pass just outside the box found Leo inside the box. Leo then toyed with Fernandez, as the goalkeeper was helpless in stopping Messi from getting the goal.

    Messi is now the only player in the history of La Liga to score in 11 straight games. 

    Osasuna tied it up in the 24th minute when a Marc Beltran low cross was deflected off a defender and landed at the feet of Raouk Loe, who blasted the ball from the top of the box and into the back of the net for the equalizer. 

    Just three minutes later, a handball was called inside the box on Alejandro Arribas, who picked up his second yellow card. This led to Messi slamming the spot kick for the 2-1 lead. That goal was Leo's 200th Liga goal in his stellar career.

    A bad call by the referee took away a Barcelona goal in the 36th minute. Messi's header hit the post in the 38th minute. 

    The third Barcelona goal came from Pedro. Another terrific Xavi pass found Dani Alves, who stayed onside, then toyed with the goalkeeper, who essentially had to face a three-on-one (Alves, Pedro, Messi). Dani then passed it to Pedro, who faked out a defender and put it in for the 3-1 lead.

    In the second half, Messi grabbed his third goal in the 56th minute. A great pass from David Villa set up Leo, who faked a defender—and the goalkeeper—and slid the ball in for his hat-trick. 

    Just a minute later, Villa found Adriano, whose pass found Messi for Leo's fourth goal of the night. Simply amazing.

    Alexis Sanchez's shot just went wide in the 75th minute. Messi's attempt at a fifth goal was blocked by Osasuna in the 78th minute. 

    David Villa had a wide-open look in stoppage time, but Fernandez made a nice stop to prevent any further damage.

    FINAL: FC Barcelona 5 - 1 Osasuna

    Once again, Lionel Messi tops Cristiano Ronaldo, as Leo's four-goal night topped Ronaldo's three-goal night against Getafe earlier on Sunday.

    Let's talk about my four most important things from this game "From The Mind of Xoel," as FC Barcelona dominated Osasuna 5-1 at the Camp Nou on Sunday.


Defense Needs to Step Up for the Real Madrid Game

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    This FC Barcelona defense continued to struggle for the first minutes of the game. Osasuna pressed well, and the Barcelona back line didn't do so well.

    You can tell fans at the Camp Nou were always a bit nervous every time Osasuna came forward. Fans know that this back line is shaky.

    After Arribas' sending off, the defense did not have too much to worry about, as Osasuna was down to 10 men. But this Barcelona defense needs to stay strong, as it will face the firepower of Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey semifinal on Wednesday. 

    Stop the sloppy passes.

    Be more aware of where the opponent's forwards are.

    Do a better job defending corner kicks.

    And so on.

    Gerard Pique will be back to face Madrid. Baby Milan's dad missed the Osasuna game because he was serving his one-game suspension for his red card last week against Real Sociedad. Jordi Alba will be fully rested for the midweek matchup, as he sat out of the Osasuna game.

    It will be interesting to see if Tito Vilanova (via his assistant and interim manager, Jordi Roura) starts Carles Puyol against Real Madrid on Wednesday. I expect Carles to start the game, but I wouldn't be surprised if Javier Mascherano starts against Madrid. Javier is younger and a bit quicker than Carles, and his speed will be needed when facing Cristiano Ronaldo.

Alexis Sanchez Has No Confidence at All

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    As shaky as the Barcelona defense has been, perhaps nothing is as shaky as Alexis Sanchez and his confidence. 

    Sanchez came in for Pedro in the 60th minute. All Culés want to see Alexis do well, but obviously, he hasn't gotten it done.

    Sanchez's confidence is clearly not there. Every time he got the ball, you can tell he was over-thinking what to do.

    A sign of lacking confidence.

    Sanchez had his chances to get a goal. His first chance just missed left. His second opportunity came via a Messi pass that was a bit behind him, but Alexis could have done more with it. Alexis' final opportunity was late in the game. Sanchez had an opportunity to take the shot, but you could tell he had no confidence in himself taking the shot, so he instead tried to pass it to David Villa, but Alexis' pass was broken up by an Osasuna defender.

    After the game, Jordi Roura talked about Sanchez's play (h/t Barcastuff).

    "Very happy with Alexis. He's a bit unlucky in front of the goal, but he doesn't let it affect him. We're not worried."

    With all due respect, "He's a bit unlucky in front of the goal..." is perhaps the biggest understatement of the Liga season, Jordi.

    Alexis Sanchez has essentially become that kid at the playground that you know is not very good at a sport, but you try and help him out by passing him the ball, hoping he can score.

    That's pretty much Alexis Sanchez today.

    All kidding aside, I do want to see Alexis at his best.

    My hope is that Alexis Sanchez can contribute against Real Madrid. Historically, Alexis has played well against Madrid in his short time at Barcelona. I don't believe Sanchez will start, but if he can come off the bench—probably for Pedro—and, at minimum, have a few shots on goal along with solid passes to his teammates, that would be a step in the right direction. 

    Alexis Sanchez needs a goal more than any other player at FC Barcelona.

    I don't know what happened to Alexis' confidence, but the time to re-gain it is now.

    Otherwise, Sandro Rosell will certainly look to loan him out in the summer.

Messi Continues to Make and Break Records

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    Lionel Messi continues to make and break records. Here are just a few of the things Leo did on Sunday:

    - Messi is the first player in Spain and 3rd player in the big 4 leagues in Europe to score 30+ league goals in 4 seasons in a row (h/t MessiStats).

    - Messi has now scored 25 of 27 penalties attempts in La Liga (92.6%). The legendary Kubala (96%) is the only Barcelona player who has better percentage. (h/t BarcaStat).

    - Messi needed 235 games to score 200 La Liga goals. Only player faster was Telmo Zarra at 219 (h/t ).

    - 18 - Lionel Messi  is the Barça who has scored the most penalties at the Camp Nou in La Liga since 2000 (Ronaldinho 17). (h/t OptaJose)

    - Messi's 32 goals this season are more than 17 of La Liga's 20 teams (h/t SportsCenter)

    - With his second goal, Messi became the youngest player to score 200 goals in La Liga history.

    - It's the fifth time in his career that Lionel Messi has scored four or more goals in a game: Arsenal (4, UCL 2009/10), Valencia (4, 2011/12), Espanyol (4, 2011/12), Bayer Leverkusen (5, UCL 2011/12). (h/t BarcaStat)

    - With 16 goals, Messi is now the player with the most league goals against CA Osasuna.

    - Messi equals Pruden Sanchez as the only player to score 33 goals after 21 games of a Liga season [via ]

    - Messi has scored in the last 16 games he started for Barcelona, his longest streak ever [via ]

    Messi is now the only player in the history of La Liga to score in 11 straight games.

    What more can be said about Leo?

    Simply the best.

    Grande Leo!

    Histórico Leo!

Barca Re-Gains Liga Swagger; Bring on Real Madrid

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    Barcelona bounced back well from their 3-2 loss to Real Sociedad last week to improve to 19-1- 1 on the season. With Atletico Madrid's loss to Athletic Bilbao, FC Barcelona move back up 11 points on Los Colchoneros.

    Real Madrid are still -15.

    Speaking of Madrid, it's time to shift focus from La Liga to the Copa del Rey.

    Jose Mourinho's Real Madrid awaits. 

    If I'm Tito Vilanova, I present my best starting XI for this game at the Santiago Bernabeu. Being on the road for the first leg is always tough, but it has the great advantage of being able to pile up those crucial road goals. 

    My starting XI for the game would be: Valdes - Alba, Puyol, Pique, Alves - Xavi, Sergio Busquets, Cesc Fabregas - Pedro, Messi, Andres Iniesta.

    Subs: Thiago for Xavi or Fabregas, Tello or Alexis for Pedro, Mascherano for Puyol.

    It's going to be a scrappy game at the Bernabeu. But I have confidence FC Barcelona can come out of the game with narrow a win, if not a draw at worst.

    It's all about road goals, period.

    El Clásico is upon us.

    And with this 5-1 win over Osasuna, FC Barcelona is confident and ready to go into hostile territory and battle Real Madrid.

    Let the games begin.


    XoelThe Voice of FC Barcelona

    Don't forget to check out my other columns:

    Pep Guardiola Joining Bayern Munich From a Barca Fan's Perspective

    Top 10 Barcelona Throwback Kits All Fans Must Own

    10 Things to Expect for FC Barcelona in 2013