Barcelona captain Lionel Messi will equal an incredible landmark set by former team-mate and club legend Xavi on his next appearance for the Catalan giants.
Xavi holds the Barcelona record for the most appearances for the club, a milestone Messi will reach next time out when he dons the famous jersey for the 767th time in his career.
Messi could equal Xavi’s record as early as Monday in what is Barcelona’s next fixture. Ronald Koeman’s side plays La Liga’s bottom team Huesca at the Camp Nou. The captain is expected to start the game with Barca still in contention for the league title and needing to keep the pressure on leaders Atletico Madrid.
Diego Simeone’s side is top of the table and six points ahead of Barca. Both teams still have 12 games left to play and meet on May 9 at the Camp Nou.
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Messi At Risk of Suspension
Messi will need to be careful if he does, as expected, play against Huesca as the captain remains one game away from suspension. The Argentine has picked up four yellow cards so far in 2020-21 and one more brings an automatic one-match ban.
Coach Ronald Koeman certainly will not want Messi to miss Barcelona’s next game which is away at Real Sociedad. The Basque side is fifth in the table and can be tricky opponents.
Barca last met Real Sociedad in the Spanish Super Cup back in January. The game finished 1-1 after extra-time, meaning Koeman’s side needed penalties to go through to the final.
Messi in Fine Form
Messi does head into Monday’s match in fine goalscoring form. The captain scored a brilliant goal from range on Wednesday against Paris Saint-Germain as Barca went out of the Champions League.
The 33-year-old now has eight goals and four assists in his last eight matches in all competitions and is the top scorer in La Liga with 19 for the season so far, one ahead of former team-mate Luis Suarez.
Barcelona is also on a good run and go into the match on a 16-game unbeaten streak in La Liga. The team’s run of form has seen them reignite their title hopes after being 10 points behind Atletico Madrid in January.
Pipping the Rojiblancos to the title still looks a tall order but is not out of the question, and Koeman told a news conference last week he is realistic about Barca’s chances of sucess this season, as reported by beIN Sports.
“As the coach and the players we have to be more realistic. We cannot change our minds and opinions about the team’s chances to win something all the time,” he said. “We know we have the [Copa del Rey] final and have a chance to win a big trophy in Spain. And depending on the results of the team we can fight for the title. We’re several points behind Atletico Madrid and we can’t lose any more points because then our objective will change and that’s difficult,
Barca certainly can’t afford to drop points at home to Huesca if they are to claim an unlikely title win. Monday’s opponents have managed just three wins all season in La Liga and face a real battle to stay in the Spanish top flight.