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LEADERS!: FC Barcelona back atop La Liga

FC Barcelona is back atop the La Liga table. Xoel Càrdenas gives you his take on Barça's win, Luis Suarez on fire, Andres Iniesta, and Lionel Messi breaking more records.

Leo and Luis
Leo and Luis
David Ramos/Getty Images

FC Barcelona is back on top of the La Liga table, as El Blaugrana crushed Rayo Vallecano, 6-1, on Sunday afternoon at the Camp Nou.

Luis Suarez got the scoring started in the sixth minute as a lovely pass by Xavi Hernandez found the Uruguayan onside and Luisito slammed it past Rayo goalkeeper Cristian Alvarez for the early 1-0 lead.

Neymar enjoyed the goal!

Credit must go to Paco Jimenez, as the Rayo manager didn't go away from his game plan once down 1-0. Rayo defended well enough to keep it only 1-0 heading into halftime.

In the second half, Gerard Pique made it 2-0 in the 49th minute. From the corner kick, Jordi Alba's headed it toward net, the ball hit the far post, and Mr. Shakira put the rebound into the back of the net to double the lead. Lionel Messi made it 3-0 in the 56th minute, as a foul in the box by Rayo was called and a penalty was given. Messi stepped up, shot the ball left, but had his shot stopped by Alvarez; however, the referee called Alvarez off his line, and called to have the PK retaken. Messi stepped back up, went right and slotted it past Alvarez for the 3-0 score line. Great to see Leo display a passionate fist-pump after he converted the PK, showing his anger and passion.

Messi made it 4-0 in the 63rd minute as a Suarez shot was mishandled by Alvarez and Leo was there to put in the fourth goal.

Leo got his hat trick in the 68th minute. A superb cross into the box found Messi who then got past two Rayo defenders, past Alvarez and put the ball in the back of the net for his hat trick. Messi is now tied with Cristiano Ronaldo for leading goal-scorer in La Liga. Grande Leo!

Dani Alves was given a straight red after a foul inside the box, and a penalty was awarded to Rayo. Bueno stepped up and slotted in the goal to get Rayo on the board.

Luis Suarez ended the match with a brace, as Leo found Luisito to get the sixth and final goal on the day. The South American connection! As beIN Sports' Ray Hudson said about Messi and Suarez: "These two are starting to form a partnership that would make Lennon and McCartney jealous."

FT: FC Barcelona 6-1 Rayo Vallecano

Xoel's Take

Luis Suarez: Beast Mode

There is no doubt Luis Suarez is in full beast mode for FC Barcelona. "El pistolero" is destroying teams, as Luis now has scored 10 goals with seven assists in 15 games so far this calendar year. Suarez has scored six goals in his last four matches in all competitions.

And people really thought Suarez was going to be a bust at Barça. Too funny!

Grande Luisito! #ThereWillBeHaters

Iniesta looking like the Don Andres we're used to seeing

Last week, I wrote a column for Fox Deportes in which I mentioned that Andres Iniesta's presence in attacking plays is needed the rest of the season for Barcelona. Luis Enrique's system sees Andres drop back a bit more compared to seasons past when he's dribble up toward the box in attack. But on Sunday, we saw Iniesta look like the Don Andres we're used to seeing: skillfully dribbling past defenders, move up towards the box, and push the attack forward to create potential goal-scoring plays.

I love Don Andres, and I've missed seeing his presence on attacking Barça plays. On Sunday, Iniesta got some of his groove back on the attack. Hopefully, we'll see more of this for the rest of the season. Barça will need it.

Xavi had a solid game against Rayo. His passes to Suarez were spot on, including the pass that led to Luis' goal. Seeing Messi, Xavi, and Iniesta play together at the same time was a great to see.

Alves and Alba ready for El Clásico?

Jordi Alba received a yellow card against Rayo, and will miss Barcelona's next Liga match against Eibar. Alba will have a clean slate for El Clásico. With Dani Alves' red card, the Brazilian may not be available for the match against Real Madrid, depending on the length of his suspension.

Leo! Leo! LEO!

On Saturday and after Real Madrid's loss to Athletic Club Bilbao, Messi posted on his Facebook account, "Tomorrow we can't fail!"

Mission accomplished!

Messi exploded in the second half, grabbing a hat trick on the day. Thiago Messi was in the stands to watch Papá Leo break some records and continue to grow his legacy (stats via ESPN Deportes' Mr. Chip and MessiStats):

  • By scoring his three goals in just 12 minutes, Lionel Messi scored the fastest hat trick of his career.
  • Messi passed Telmo Zarra and is now the player with the most official hat tricks (32) for a club in the history of Spanish football (24 in La Liga; 2 in Copa del Rey; 5 in UCL; 1 in Supercopa).
  • Messi passed Cristiano Ronaldo for the most hat tricks (23) in the history of La Liga.
  • Messi has now scored 41 goals and given 21 assists in 38 games this season.
  • Messi has now scored 41+ goals for Barcelona in six straight seasons.
  • Messi is only 5 goals shy of his 400th official Barcelona goal: now 395 goals in 463 appearances.
  • Messi has scored 352 goals in his last 350 games for FC Barcelona.
  • Messi has now scored 41 goals for Barcelona this season (38 games), as much as in the entirety of last season (46 games).

As I said on Twitter: I know it's only early March, but Lionel Messi should start looking for a suit for the 2015 Ballon d'Or ceremony. Ballon d'Or No. 5 is coming.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: We are all truly blessed that we are living during the Lionel Messi era. Cherish every game you watch because the day Lionel Messi hangs up his boots, the football world will not be same and future generations will depend on us to tell and pass along the story of the legend that is Lionel Andres Messi.


Xoel's Final Word

It was a great afternoon in Catalunya, as family, friends and the football world watched FC Barcelona defeated Rayo Vallecano by 6-1 on Sunday. With the win combined with Real Madrid's loss over the weekend, FC Barcelona now sits atop the La Liga table. Barça controls its own destiny in La Liga.

Som liders!

¡Somos líderes!

We are leaders!

Som i serem Barça!

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