Catalans hit a magnificent seven but title rivals grind out tough 1-0 wins, whilst both Gianluigi Buffon and Andrea Pirlo rolled back the years for Juventus at Genoa
Already Barcelona’s all-time leading goalscorer in competitive matches, Lionel Messi became his club’s top scorer in all forms of football – including friendlies – with a hat-trick against Osasuna as the Nou Camp giants won 7-0.
As suggested by our man Paul Wilkes, Messi grabbed the opening goal on the way to Barca’s rout, with his two other strikes joining goals from Alexis Sanchez, Andres Iniesta, Cristian Tello and Pedro in the dominant display.
Barca had needed a win to keep pace with the Madrid clubs, who both earned hard-fought 1-0 wins on Saturday thanks to goals from their main men; Cristiano Ronaldo for Real at Malaga, and Diego Costa for Atletico at home to Espanyol.
All eyes now turn to Real’s meeting with Barca at the Bernabeu on Sunday.
Juventus are now 17 points clear at the top of Serie A after they won 1-0 at Genoa on Sunday night, with two of their veterans leading the way.
With the score goalless 18 minutes from time, Juve goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon saved an Emanuele Calaio penalty, before Andrea Pirlo curled home a stunning free-kick to win it just a minute from time.
Both Roma and Napoli play on Monday, whilst Fiorentina and Inter Milan strengthened European ambitions with impressive victories over Chievo and Verona respectively.
Parma consolidated their place in sixth with an impressive 4-2 win over Milan at the San Siro (as Paolo Bandini had predicted), a result which led to Milan manager Clarence Seedorf and players such as Mario Balotelli and Kaka holding a meeting with angry fans as the team dropped to 12th.
Borussia Dortmund slipped to a shock 2-1 defeat at home to Borussia Moenchengladbach, a result which ensured that Bayern Munich’s win over Bayer Leverkusen by the same margin took them 23 points clear at the top.
The champions-elect struck either side of half-time through Mario Mandzukic and a fine Bastian Schweinsteiger free-kick in the victory, whilst Schalke jumped up to third with their own 2-1 win at Augsburg on Friday night.
A first half brace from Zlatan Ibrahimovic earned Paris Saint-Germain a comfortable 2-0 victory over Saint-Etienne on Sunday, but they remain eight points clear at the top of Monaco won the game of the weekend at Lyon.
Dimitar Berbatov grabbed the winner for Claudio Ranieri’s side as they ran out 3-2 winners in a topsy-turvy clash, whilst third-placed Lille played out a disappointing goalless draw with Nantes.
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