Messi makes Liga history with Barcelona's 6,000th goal

No Messi in Argentina squad as Simeone wins first call-up

Diego Maradona has called on Argentina to give Barcelona ace Lionel Messi time to "breathe".

Barcelona opened their 2018-19 La Liga campaign with a 3-0 win over Alaves on Saturday, with main man Lionel Messi the chief protagonist as always. He also closed the scoring in injury time after substitute Philippe Coutinho had added to the lead in the 83rd. Goalkeeper Fernando Pacheco couldn't get to the ball in time after it suddenly appeared underneath the barrier.

Last season saw new manager Ernesto Valverde largely lean upon a 4-4-1-1 formation, with Messi in a central free role behind sole striker Luis Suarez, and that strategy succeeded in giving the team a strong backbone - they ended up conceding only 29 goals in 38 games despite a few late-season defensive blips.

On February 1, 2009, MESSI scored Barcelona's 5000th goal in La Liga.

Against Alaves he got the opening goal with a free-kick that he put underneath the wall and after Coutinho added to the scoring, it was Messi again to take the total to 6,002 with 385 coming from the player.

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Confidence is high among the Blaugrana after last week's Super Cup victory over Sevilla and a comfortable midweek win against Boca Juniors, but Alaves have a good recent record at the Camp Nou and will be determined to cause another upset.

Real Sociedad won 2-1 at Villarreal despite going a goal down.

Messi will hope to lead Barcelona to more silverware this season, while his perennial battle with Cristiano Ronaldo will have to take place exclusively in Europe after the Portuguese forward left Real Madrid for Juventus. No one did. It was like the one he scored against Girona last season.

Mario Hermoso put Espanyol ahead at Balaidos Stadium with a shot from inside the area after a corner just before halftime.

Barca joined Levante and Real Sociedad on three points at the top of the table, with Real Madrid hosting Getafe on Sunday and Atletico Madrid visiting Valencia on Monday.

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