Messi tries to add to haul vs. Atletico
Barcelona, Spain (Sports Network) - Lionel Messi will try to add to his record of 88 goals scored in the calendar year on Sunday when Barcelona welcomes Atletico Madrid to Camp Nou.
The Argentine made history in La Liga action on Sunday, scoring twice against Real Betis to break Gerd Muller's record of 85 goals in a year, which the German set in 1972.
"The record is great for what it means, but the most important thing is that the team won and that we maintained the distance with the teams behind us," Messi, who was doubtful after picking up a knock in Champions League play midweek, said after the match. "I was eager to play after the scare on Wednesday."
Three points at home on Sunday would be a major step toward helping Barcelona extend its lead even further.
Sunday's defeat of Real Betis helped Barcelona maintain a six-point advantage over Atletico through 15 games. The Catalans have dropped just two points all season and look a strong bet to run away at the top of La Liga.
It could be a case of Barcelona playing for more than just points on Sunday. They could be out to rewrite history.
Messi scored two goals for the Catalans in their Copa del Rey match against Cordoba on Wednesday, bringing his total to 88 on the year.
Including Sunday's clash with Atletico, Barcelona has three matches left in 2012 across all competitions. That could be enough time for Messi to get five or six more goals and build to his astounding record. Such is his dominance.
Real Madrid, meanwhile, will hope to stay within touching disatance of top spot with three points against Espanyol at the Bernabeu.
Also on Sunday, Valencia welcomes Rayo Vallecano to the Mestalla while Real Zaragoza hopes to climb to within two points of Levante when the two sides meet at La Romareda.
On Saturday, Malaga will attempt to maintain its fourth-place position with maximum points against Sevilla at the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, Granada will try to snap a four-game winless run when it hosts Real Sociedad at Los Carmenes, Mallorca will look to pull further away from the relegation zone when it hosts Athletic Bilbao at the Iberostar Stadium, and Getafe will look to extend its unbeaten run in league play five games when it faces Osasuna at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez.
And on Monday, Deportivo welcomes Valladolid to the Riazor and Real Betis heads to the Estadio Municipal de Balaidos to face Celta Vigo.