FC Barcelona world star Lionel Messi seems to be back on track and fully recovered from the long break he took while injured last year, scoring hat-trick today against Granada.
Lionel Messi’s first hat trick of the season helped Barcelona beat Granada 4-0 and take a provisional lead of the Spanish league on Saturday.
The victory lifted Barcelona one point above Atletico Madrid, which plays at fifth-place Celta Vigo on Sunday.
Barcelona will have a game in hand after the 19th round this weekend.
Third-place Real Madrid was five points behind Barcelona. It hosted Deportivo La Coruna late Saturday in the debut of new coach Zinedine Zidane, who replaced the fired Rafa Benitez this week.
Barcelona had drawn four of its last six matches but was coming off a 4-1 win over city rival Espanyol in the first leg of the round of 16 of the Copa del Rey. It had been held by Espanyol to a scoreless draw in the previous league round.
“I’m very satisfied with how the team played today,” Barcelona coach Luis Enrique said. “Everybody was focused from the beginning. The players knew how important it was to win these three points.”
“We could have scored more,” Barcelona defender Aleix Vidal said. “But the main thing was to get the three points. We are back in the lead, now we’ll see what happens in the other matches.”
Messi found the net from close range after a pass from Arda Turan, then bagged his second six minutes later by striking an open net after a pass by Suarez. Messi’s third goal came after Neymar struck the post and the ball rebounded to Messi inside the area for his ninth league goal.
Neymar sealed Barcelona’s victory from close range, scoring his 15th league goal to tie Suarez as the competition’s leading scorer. Ronaldo had 14 entering Madrid’s game.
Dani Alves, who this week called Spanish media “garbage” for the way it covers soccer, came off the bench in the second half and was loudly cheered by the Barcelona fans.
The club initially condemned Alves’ comments, but late Friday said it would give its support to the player in case a local association of sports media went ahead with its threat to sue the Brazilian right back.
Barcelona has a game in hand against 18th-place Sporting Gijon because it played in the Club World Cup last month, and won.