Lionel Messi is back to his sizzling best for Barcelona, which could be ominous for Manchester City who face the Spanish giants in a Champions League game on Wednesday.
Messi scored both goals to take his season’s goal total to 43 as Barcelona easily won at Eibar to open up a four-point lead at the top of La Liga. Second-place Real Madrid had a chance to reduce the deficit in their match on Sunday.
Messi converted a 31st-minute penalty, then the Argentina forward headed in Ivan Rakitic’s corner after halftime. It was Eibar’s eighth straight defeat.
For Barcelona, this was ideal preparation for two key home matches.
They hold a 2-1 lead going into their last-16 second leg meeting with City, then they play Real Madrid in La Liga next weekend. City’s form has crumbled since the start of the year, and they lost again on Saturday, this time 1-0 at Burnley. City boss Manuel Pellegrini looks certain to be replaced in the summer – possibly sooner.
George Boyd scored the Burnley winner after a poor headed clearance from returning City captain Vincent Kompany. This shock result means City remain five points behind leaders Chelsea, who also have two matches in hand.
On Friday, Blues boss Jose Mourinho said the title race was already over and that his team is going to be celebrating in May. Nevertheless, City’s tenacity should not be doubted. They closed a big Chelsea points lead before Christmas and can still do it again to win a third title in four years.
City had won only three of their previous 10 matches in all competitions but expected victory at Burnley against a side that had won only one of their previous 11 matches this year.
However, apart from a low save to deny Dzeko, and tame efforts from Sergio Aguero and Wilfried Bony that were directed straight at him, Burnley keeper Tom Heaton was rarely troubled.