International

Messi eager for El Clasico clash

2014-10-22 11:53
Lionel Messi (Supplied)
Lionel Messi (Supplied)

Barcelona - Lionel Messi took a step closer to the Champions League scoring record against Ajax on Tuesday and now turns his target to the El Clasico with Real Madrid on Saturday and the all-time La Liga goals tally.

His partnership with Neymar is blossoming this season after a slow start and he set the Brazilian up for the first goal against Ajax before striking the other in the 3-1 win to give him 69 Champions League goals, two short of Raul's record.

Both were taken off in the second half with Barca coach Luis Enrique looking to rest them ahead of the Real game and Barca's mood of relaxation against a clearly inferior Ajax almost came back to bite them.

Anwar El Ghazi knocked home a loose ball inside the area to raise Dutch hopes before Sandro Ramirez wrapped up the points for the Catalan side.

In La Liga Messi has 250 goals, one short of the scoring record of Telmo Zarra for Athletic Bilbao in the 1940's and '50s, but he denies it will be on his mind against Real.

"The record is the least important, what is important is that we have a good game and get the win," he told reporters.

Barca lead the La Liga table with Real four points behind in third place but they are in strong form with 25 goals in five games.

"It is El Clasico, it would be great to win but still it doesn't decide anything as there is a long way to go in the league," said Messi.

Barca fans can look ahead to the mouthwatering prospect of Luis Suarez linking up with deadly duo as he returns from his four-month biting ban and he could make his debut this weekend.

With Pedro struggling for form and youngsters Ramirez and Munir El Haddadi not ready for regular football there is a place waiting in the team for Suarez to fill.

"We are looking forward to the arrival of Luis and it will be great to play with him as he will add a lot of strength to the team," Messi said.

"He is a great striker who scores a lot of goals. I am happy for him as he has been out for a long time."

In the ten years since his debut, which Messi celebrated last week, he has gone from being a naive teenager to a leader of the team.

However, he showed a much-publicised air of arrogance last weekend against Eibar when he refused to be substituted.

In the end Luis Enrique took Neymar off instead of him but against Ajax he did go off without any complaints.

"I have heard what has been said about the matter. He (Luis Enrique) is the coach and when he wants to take me off he does and there is no problem," said the Argentine.

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