Messi leaves rival Liga strikers behind

Messi leaves rival Liga strikers behind

MADRID - Reuters
Messi leaves rival Liga strikers behind

Barcelona’s Argentinian superstar Lionel Messi scored two goals against Atletco Madrid on Dec 16 to take his scoring tally to 90 goals in 2012. AFP Photo

Barcelona’s relentless pace at the top of La Liga, fired by the insatiable Lionel Messi, has left its closest rivals Atletico and Real Madrid all but throwing in the towel before the midway point of the season.

A 4-1 thrashing of Diego Simeone’s pretenders on Dec. 16, with another double from Messi, served to underline Barcelona’s dominance in a league where it has swept up 46 of 48 points so far.

Third-placed Real was held to a surprise 2-2 draw by Espanyol at the Bernabeu.

“Barça is left without rivals,” daily Sport gloated yesterday. “The league isn’t won yet but everyone thinks it is.”

Argentina forward Messi, who is favorite to collect a fourth World Player award next month, may not have been the outstanding figure against Atletico but he won his personal duel with the league’s other form striker Radamel Falcao.

Messi bagged two second-half goals to help cancel out Colombia striker Falcao’s opener. Messi has scored the same as or more than 17 other sides in La Liga with 25 so far, and took his 2012 tally for club and country to 90.