Football, News 2018-03-16 9:55 AM

WELLSPORTS NEWS:

Barcelona will look to maintain their healthy eight-point lead at the top of La Liga this weekend when they play host to Athletic Bilbao at Camp Nou.

Following a rare weekend off last time out Lionel Messi is expected to return to the home side’s ranks, as he himself attempts to continue what has been yet another impressive campaign in front of goal.

The Argentina international continues to seemingly hit new milestones with each passing week, and he is once again leading the way in the race to finish top of the Spanish scoring charts.

Sunday afternoon’s opponents will be particularly annoyed to see Messi’s name in the matchday squad should he indeed be restored, as he boasts a formidable record against Athletic in all competitions.

The South American forward is not the only one Athletic will be sick of the sight of, as they so rarely get the better of Barcelona in what tends to be a one-sided affair.

Dating back to the 30-year-old’s first taste of this encounter in 2005-06 – he was an unused sub the season prior – Barca have lost just two of their 32 meetings with Les Leones in all competitions.

Messi got off the mark in that very first league clash, in fact, netting the second goal in a 2-1 home win, but he then fired blanks in each of the next four until the tail end of the 2009-10 season when that drought ended.

Since then it has been a familiar tale, though, as the five-time Ballon d’Or winner has 13 goals in 16 La Liga outings against Athletic, while also punishing them more often than not in cup competitions – nine goals in 11, including a brace in the 2014-15 Copa del Rey final.

Setting up goals for others does not tend to be a problem, either, having laid on nine assists across those previous 32 games.

 

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