Messi on song early in Barca return
Photo Source: AP
Three touches were all Lionel Messi needed to score for Barcelona on Saturday, showing that he is ready to take on his former coach Pep Guardiola in the Champions League.
Messi displayed no signs of rust after more than three weeks out of action with a right groin strain and scored inside of four minutes after coming on as a second-half substitute.
The Argentine added to Barcelona's 4-0 rout of Deportivo La Coruna, firing in a well-placed pass by Neymar in the Spanish league match.
Barcelona's win comes shortly before former Barca coach Guardiola comes home to Camp Nou at the helm of new club Manchester City for a highly anticipated European clash on Wednesday.
``We played a great game. This is the perfect way to arrive at the match against City,'' said Barcelona coach Luis Enrique, who calls Guardiola a friend.
``I haven't spoken to Pep,'' Luis Enrique said. ``(But) City will be a very attractive rival. It's a team in continuous progression, and even more so now with its coach.''
It was a night of big wins for all the top teams in La Liga, as Atletico Madrid winger Yannick Carrasco scored a hat trick to keep Diego Simeone's side at the top of the table by destroying Granada 7-1.
Real Madrid stayed second on goal difference to Atletico after outclassing Real Betis 6-1 to end its run of four consecutive draws.
Isco scored twice for Real and was delighted with his side's performance.
"Tonight we were Real Madrid again, a team of speed and ambition," a delighted Isco said.
"We were determined to win this game, in order to be level at the top with Atletico - we couldn't let them escape from us."
Sevilla ended their long wait for an away victory to remain a point behind in third, and a point ahead of fourth-placed Barcelona.