Barcelona - With a goal against Celta Vigo on
Saturday, Lionel Messi can become the first player to score against
every Spanish league opponent in consecutive order.
all-time leading scorer netted a record 73 goals in all competitions
last season, and hasn't let up with 55 so far this campaign.
along with Real Madrid and Malaga, will use the return to domestic
action to prepare for the Champions League quarterfinals next week.
leads the league by 13 points and is on its way to recovering the title
from Madrid. It travels to Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday for the first
leg of the Champions League quarterfinals.
"PSG will be a tough
rival. They are a great team both in attack and defense and they are
deadly on the break," said Barcelona forward Cristian Tello, who could
get a start on Saturday as others rest.
Madrid, meanwhile, visits
Real Zaragoza to warm up for Galatasaray's visit on Wednesday, when
Malaga will welcome German champion Borussia Dortmund after playing at
Rayo Vallecano on Saturday.
Messi is on a record run of scoring
in 18 straight league matches. The last time Messi failed to score in
the league was Nov. 3. when Barcelona didn't need his goals to beat
Because the Spanish league season is scheduled with
the teams playing each other in exact order, Messi has scored against
every other team in Spain since then.
Messi has scored 28 goals
during the streak and has a league-leading 42 for the season through 28
rounds. He holds the league record of 50 goals from last season and now
has 10 rounds left to try and better it.
The 25-year-old Messi
started his scoring run by striking twice in Barcelona's 4-2 win at
Mallorca. Ten games later, he broke the old milestone held by
Barcelona's Mariano Martin (1942-43) and Madrid's Ronaldo (1996-97) by
scoring four against Osasuna in a 5-1 rout on Jan. 27.
Celta team in second-to-last place with one win in its last 10 games and
without suspended striker Iago Aspas, Barcelona's most daunting
challenges could be its players' weary legs after their commitments with
their national sides and the lure of looking ahead to PSG.
will hope it doesn't pick up any more injuries, especially in defense.
It was already without Carles Puyol (knee surgery) and Adriano (leg
muscle) before Jordi Alba pulled a muscle in his right leg in Spain's
1-1 draw with Finland last Friday.
Barcelona also lost Pedro
Rodriguez for 10 days with a leg injury after he scored the winner in
Spain's 1-0 victory over France on Tuesday that gave the world champions
control of their qualifying group for the World Cup.
coach Tito Vilanova returned home earlier this week from after spending
10 weeks in the United States undergoing treatment for a throat tumor.
The club said he will gradually recover his day-to-day duties, but it
appears assistant Jordi Roura will be in charge at Balaidos Stadium.
has combined an elimination by Madrid in the Copa del Rey with a
historic comeback against AC Milan in the Champions League with Vilanova
"We needed to get him back," Tello said. "His absence was
noticed because the manager is always important. While he was gone we
remained united and that was key."
On Sunday, third-place
Atletico Madrid hosts Valencia looking to keep the pressure on Madrid
for a runner-up finish. Fourth-place Real Sociedad visits Espanyol,
last-place Deportivo La Coruna is at Mallorca, and Valladolid hosts
Levante hosts Sevilla also on Saturday. Real Betis hosts Getafe on Monday, while Granada visits Athletic Bilbao.