Barcelona ease past Atletico Madrid: 3 things we learned

Lionel Messi stole the show as his free-kick took this season's unbeaten streak to 27 and closed any murmurings of a distant fall from grace.

"Maradona hugged him and said 'You can't tell me that you, on your way to becoming one of the best players in history, are going back to the dressing room because of this nonsense?'"

The only sour note for Barca was losing Andres Iniesta to an apparent hamstring strain in the opening period and, although Atletico improved after the break, Marc-Andre ter Stegen was barely tested, ensuring the day belonged to Messi and Barca.

And with the result against Atletico now settled, Messi is expected to be granted several days off to refresh.

Atletico defender Gimenez concedes that the talismanic 30-year-old is unplayable at times, with his latest goal just another example of the unworldly ability one of the all-time greats possesses.

Barcelona host the Blues next Wednesday in their Champions League Round of 16 second leg.

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He's also Argentina's top scorer, he's now on 61 goals which is almost double the amount Argentina legend Diego Maradona scored. The visitors were the side that needed three points here at the Camp Nou to cut down Barcelona's lead to just two points. "They had a good first half and in the second, we reacted well and did what we could to try to score the equalizer".

Messi's 24th LaLiga goal of the season was his third direct free kick in his last three games, and both teams' coaches Diego Simeone and Ernesto Valverde said afterwards at the Camp Nou on Sunday afternoon that the Argentine had been the difference between the teams.

"Iniesta is a unique player, a little like Messi, so it's hard to find a player who can replace him", he said via ESPN.

Barcelona's players returned to training on Friday (2 March) only hours after their disappointing 1-1 draw at Las Palmas in order to begin the preparations for the crucial visit of second-placed Atletico Madrid.

"That's how you win leagues, by suffering, when you are not 100 per cent but getting the best out of your players". "It was a very important game because being eight points ahead is not the same as two". But I don't think he fits in with the way they play right now.

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