Sergio Busquets

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La Liga roundup: Messi ties Ronaldo’s La Liga hat-trick record (video)

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Lionel Messi’s emphatic performance against Celta Vigo highlights La Liga’s Saturday action.

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Barcelona 4-1 Celta Vigo

There’s great, and then there’s Lionel Messi great.

Against Celta Vigo at Camp Nou on Saturday, the Argentine put together one of his finest performances this season, scoring a hat-trick in 48 minutes that included two free kicks. The hat trick marks Messi’s 34th of his La Liga career (459 games), tying Cristiano Ronaldo’s record.

“It’s clear that when it’s so close we have the advantage of having the best player in the world and the best free-kick taker in the world,” teammate Sergio Busquets said following the game. “He’s been improving and that’s an advantage, I hope he keeps scoring them.”

 

Messi opened the scoring in the 23rd minute from the penalty spot, only to commit the foul that would lead to Celta’s equalizer  – a well-placed free kick from Lucas Olaza – three minutes before the end of the second half.

If anything, the yellow card he earned and subsequent goal from the visitors served as motivation for Messi, because magic from Barcelona’s No. 10 was on its way.

Minutes before the whistle that would see both sides head into their respective dressing rooms, Messi netted his first well-stuck free kick. Minutes after both teams took the field after the break, his second inch-perfect free kick found the back of net. Both free kicks were fired over the wall and curled into the top corner.

Messi has scored nine goals in his last seven games throughout all competitions. With eight league goals to his name, only Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema has more goals than Messi’s seven this season.

In the 85th minute, Busquets’ strike from the top of the 18-yard mark helped Barcelona seal their victory, ending a two-game winless streak in league play.

Barcelona, who are now level with rivals Real Madrid with 25 points, travel to Leganes following the international break, defending, while Celta Vigo, who continue in a crisis despite recently appointing Oscar Garcia Junyent as manager, will look for their third win of the season against Villarreal.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Eibar 0 – 4 Real Madrid 

Alaves 3-0 Real Valladolid 

Valencia 2-0 Granada

Busquets signs new contract with Barcelona through 2023

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Barcelona says Sergio Busquets has signed a new contract that will keep him at the Spanish champion through the 2022-23 season.

Barcelona adds his buyout clause has increased from 200 million euros ($234 million) to 500 million euros ($584 million).

[ MORE: Top battles in Chelsea-Liverpool ]

The Spanish international’s previous deal was scheduled to finish in 2021.

The 30-year-old Busquets is in his 11th season with Barcelona after coming through its academy. He has scored 13 goals in 490 appearances as the club’s first-choice holding midfielder.

He has helped Barcelona win three Champions Leagues, seven Spanish leagues and six Copa del Rey crowns.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/tag/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

UCL Weds: Barca hosts Chelsea; Bayern carries huge lead

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Call it a UEFA Champions League doubleheader, with a Turkish kickoff at 1 p.m. ET and a battle in Spain at 3:45 p.m.

[ MORE: Mourinho reacts to UCL exit ]

Chelsea boss Antonio Conte is demanding his side “stay in every moment of the game” as it attempts to score at the Camp Nou against Barcelona. Chelsea opens the leg with a 1-1 score line, and knows it needs a 1-0, 2-1, 2-2, or better.

And you’re not going to have a ton of the ball. Here’s Conte and one of his buzz words, suffer:

“Barcelona try to dominate the game, have a lot of possession and try to get players between the lines and go straight towards the goal. We must pay great attention, be compact and suffer. Without the ball, you suffer. You have to defend well. When you have the ball, I repeat, we must know very well which is the way to go, to try to score and create chances, in the same way we did at Stamford Bridge.”

As for Barcelona, the Blaugranas have not forgotten how Chelsea knocked them out of the UCL in 2011-12.

“You can draw conclusions from every game. In 2012,     we started out really well, we went ahead on the scoreboard, we went for it in the second leg, we missed a penalty kick — that’s all part of football. It was a sad game, because we could have gone through to the final. We played great in those games, and it seems inconceivable that we didn’t go through, but that’s the way football is.”

As for the other tie, Bayern Munich visits Besiktas for a 1 p.m. ET kickoff.

Besiktas is a fine team, but posting 5-0 or better over Bayern Munich in Turkey is a bit too far-fetched to consider more than a paragraph on this second leg. Expect Besiktas to show well, but keeping Bayern off the board is quite a challenge. Bayern boss Jupp Heycknes may rest a fella or two:

“We have 20 absolutely top players, and I trust all of them. There’s no preferred line-up. It varies. But of course I won’t act against my conviction that we need a good balance between defence and attack in the team. That’ll be the case tomorrow too.”

La Liga: Barcelona stay perfect; Isco propels Real Madrid to victory

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MADRID (AP) In a day marked by demonstrations over Catalonia’s disputed independence vote, Barcelona won its seventh game in a row and Real Madrid earned its first victory at home in the Spanish league on Sunday.

Barcelona defeated Las Palmas 3-0 to stay perfect with two goals by Lionel Messi and one by Sergio Busquets in a game played in an empty Camp Nou Stadium to protest the Spanish government’s attempt to halt Catalonia’s referendum.

Real Madrid beat Catalan club Espanyol 2-0 with a pair of goals by Isco in a match in which Madrid fans displayed cards with the Spanish flag colors.

The cards were raised in the 12th minute in a reference to the supporters being the club’s 12th player.

Some of the few Espanyol fans at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium held up the colors of the Catalan flag, although coach Quique Sanchez Flores did not want to get involved.

“I’m not going to mix sports and politics,” he said. “I’m not going to be part of this spectacle.”

Las Palmas added a Spanish flag to the shirts that the players wore against Barcelona to show its support for a unified Spain.

By day’s end, Catalonia’s health services said 844 people had been treated in hospitals for injuries, including two in serious condition, as Spanish authorities tried to stop the independence vote that the central government said was unconstitutional. Thirty-three police were also injured.

Barcelona, which openly backed the referendum, wanted to postpone the game but its request was denied by the Spanish league. It decided to play to avoid losing points, but kept the stadium empty “to show the entire world that we were not pleased with what happened (in Catalonia),” club president Josep Bartomeu said.

Barcelona maintained a five-point lead over second-place Sevilla, which on Saturday defeated Malaga 2-0 at home.

Isco scored from close range after a neat through pass by Cristiano Ronaldo in the 30th minute and added to the lead in the 71st with a shot from inside the area to give Madrid its first home league win this season, beating Espanyol 2-0.

Madrid had drawn twice and lost once at the Bernabeu, although it had won its Champions League game at the stadium against APOEL. It had also beaten Barcelona in the Spanish Super Cup final.

“The key for the team was to be patient,” Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said.

Right back Dani Carvajal was left out of the squad after the team said he had a viral infection related to his heart, but Zidane said it was not serious.

Sergio Busquets opened the scoring at Camp Nou with a header early in the second half, and Lionel Messi added his goals seven minutes apart toward the end of the game, as Barcelona beat Las Palmas 3-0.

Messi’s first goal deserved a bigger audience, with the Argentine dribbling his way past the goalkeeper before finding the open net in the 70th minute. His second was an easy shot from close range after a pass by Luis Suarez.

Messi reached 14 goals in 11 matches this season. He is the league’s scoring leader with 11 goals in seven matches.

Barcelona’s Enrique, Busquets disagree on reasons for big loss

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Sergio Busquets says he knows why Barcelona was waxed by Paris Saint-Germain in Tuesday’s first leg of their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie.

“It wasn’t a question of our attitude,” Busquets said, via Marca. “Just that they pressed more, were better tactically, had a plan that they executed better.”

[ MORE: Match recap | Di Maria gushes ]

Given Busquets’ tactical admission, it comes as no surprise that Barcelona boss Luis Enrique strongly disagrees with the midfielder.

From Yahoo! Sports:

“It is difficult to explain. They were superior to us from the start. It was a disastrous night for us in which we were clearly inferior. There’s not much more to say.”

“PSG did what we expected them to do and produced their best version and we were at our poorest.”

If that’s what Barcelona expected and instructed, then it isn’t down to tactics. And to be fair to Enrique, PSG attacked Barca right off the field.

Without even a road goal to its name, it’s difficult to believe Barca has a shot of overturning the 4-0 deficit (especially if PSG adopts the same tactics of pressing and aggression).