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Barcelona back on top ahead of crucial week

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Napoli and Real Madrid are up next

FC Barcelona v SD Eibar SAD - La Liga Photo by Urbanandsport/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Barcelona may have endured another chaotic week off the pitch but they end the weeked back on top of La Liga, two points above Real Madrid with 13 games left to play.

Quique Setien’s side thrashed Eibar 5-0 on Saturday to leapfrog Los Blancos in the table, and Zinedine Zidane’s side were unable to respond and lost 1-0 at Levante.

Barcelona’s week had been marred by allegations of an online campaign attacking players, while the arrival of Martin Braithwaite on an emergency transfer had drawn criticism.

Yet the team put those worries aside on the pitch, with Lionel Messi scoring four to lead his side back to the top of the table ahead of a crucial week.

Next up is a trip to Italy in the Champions League to face Napoli in the last 16 of the tournament Barca want to win the most.

Gennaro Gattuso’s side have had an erratic season and are down in sixth in the table, 24 points behind leaders Juventus but have picked up some impressive wins.

Barcelona will need no reminding of what happened on their last visit to Italy in the Champions League knockout stages but will be glad to have the away leg first.

Tuesday’s trip to Italy is followed by Sunday’s Clasico at the Santiago Bernabeu which could go a long way to deciding which team wins the title this season.

Victory for Real Madrid would see them return to top spot, but Barca can move five points clear if they beat Zidane’s men and have a great recent record in Madrid.

Barcelona have shown promising signs of progress under new manager Setien in his first nine games in charge, but the next week may provide more of an idea of whether the new man will end the season with some silverware.