Tito Vilanova insisted Barcelona were not a one-man side after Lionel Messi scored twice and set up another as the Catalan club powered on at the top of the Primera Division with a 3-1 victory over Real Zaragoza.
Messi took his season tally for Barca to 22 in all competitions with strikes in the 16th and 60th minutes, and also turned provider in the 28th minute to help summer signing Alex Song open his account for the club.
Messi’s contribution is immeasurable but Barca coach Vilanova is adamant the club’s success is not only down to the Argentina forward.
He said: “It’s no great revelation to say that Messi is decisive, but Leo doesn’t win games by himself.
“You have to create chances, know how to defend... It’s too simplistic to say Barca is just Messi.
“Leo is very good but we need all the players because only one cannot win a game.”
The match was also marked by the returns of Gerard Pique and Carles Puyol, who played together for the first time since April.
Real Madrid assistant coach Aitor Karanka knows his team cannot afford to make any mistakes as they continued their pursuit of Barcelona with a 5-1 home win over Athletic Bilbao.
Jon Aurtenetxe’s unfortunate own goal opened the scoring for the champions, but there was no doubt about the other four Real goals which came from Sergio Ramos, Karim Benzema, Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedira.
Victory saw Jose Mourinho’s third-placed side stay within eight points of Barca, and five adrift of Atletico Madrid, who won 1-0 at Granada last night.
Karanka accepts his team, who visit Manchester City in the Champions League on Wednesday, cannot afford any mishaps if they are to have any chance of retaining the league title.
He said: “We have known for a while that we cannot have any slip-ups and it will be this way for a while. At the end we will see how it pans out. We worry ourselves about winning our matches and we get on with it.”
In Italy, Federico Marchetti produced a goalkeeping masterclass as Lazio held leaders Juventus to a goalless draw on Saturday.
The Turin side, who face Chelsea in a must-win Champions League clash tomorrow, created a number of chances to win the game but could not find a way past the Lazio stopper.
Neither Inter nor Napoli could make inroads into Juve’s five-point lead at the top of Serie A, however, as both sides drew 2-2, Napoli at home to Milan and Inter at home to Cagliari.
Arsenal will be pleased their Champions League opponents on Wednesday, Montpellier, expended extra energy on Saturday as the French champions had to play the final 30 minutes of their 1-1 draw with Valenciennes with 10 men.
Gaetan Charbonnier gave Montpellier the lead after 15 minutes but, after conceding the equaliser just before the break, Jamel Saihi’s red card forced them to hang on.
Galatasaray looked surprisingly jaded as they suffered a surprise 3-1 home defeat to Karabukspor on Friday.
Fatih Terim’s men, who welcome Manchester United in the Champions League tomorrow, remain top of the table as second-placed Antalyaspor lost 5-3 at home to Besiktas last night.
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