Barcelona keep faint title hopes alive with 1-0 victory
July 13 (AFP)
Lionel Messi made it 20 assists for the season in Barcelona’s stodgy 1-0 win over Real Valladolid on Saturday, even as his team’s La Liga challenge appears almost over.
Messi teed up Arturo Vidal’s winner at Jose Zorilla to become the first player to provide 20 assists in Spain’s top flight since Xavi Hernandez in 2009.
Victory for Barca means Real Madrid cannot clinch the title on Monday by beating Granada but only an incredible collapse will prevent them putting their name on the trophy later in the week.
If they beat Granada, Madrid will win La Liga by prevailing at home to Villarreal on Thursday, regardless of Barcelona’s results.
Overall, Madrid need only five points from their remaining three matches to secure their third La Liga title in eight years.
“We are doing things that deserve more than where we are,” said Barca coach Quique Setien.
“To win La Liga, I don’t know, because our rival is winning everything.”
Yet even as Barcelona’s turbulent domestic campaign draws to a close, Messi continues to shine.
His delightful pass for Vidal in the 15th minute, a scoop between two Valladolid defenders, triggered more remarkable milestones.
As well as matching the best La Liga total for assists by one player in the last 11 years, Messi extends his own career-best number of assists in a single league season.