Barcelona boosted as Sergio Busquets returns for Champions League tie with Roma

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Barcelona have been boosted by the return of Sergio Busquets from injury.

The midfielder was named in the squad to travel to Rome for the second leg of the Champions League quarter-final on Tuesday.

The Catalans hold a 4-1 lead over AS Roma from the first leg at the Camp Nou.

Busquets was sidelined for three weeks before returning to play the first leg despite not being fully fit. He then missed the game against Leganes as he continued his recovery.

It seemed as if Ivan Rakitic, who played in the weekend’s 3-1 win over Leganes, would deputise for the Spaniard in this encounter as well.

While he may not play the full 90 minutes, Busquets’ inclusion in the squad is certainly a welcome surprise for La Blaugrana.

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Lionel Messi and Mohamed Salah share lead in race for coveted award

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Lionel Messi is nearing a fifth European Golden Shoe.

Lionel Messi has moved level with Mohamed Salah in the race for the European Golden Shoe after his hat-trick against Leganes on Saturday.

The Barcelona star is now on 29 league goals for the season, same as Salah, giving them both 58 points in the scoring system which determines who wins the award.

Bayern Munich‘s Robert Lewandowski is third with 26 goals and 52 points.

Messi’s hat-trick also put him seven goals ahead in the Pichichi standings, with rival Cristiano Ronaldo and teammate Luis Suarez next on La Liga‘s scoring charts with 22 goals. Real Madrid’s Ronaldo will have the chance to catch up during Sunday’s Madrid derby.

For now, however, given Messi’s scoring rate, not to mention that of Barcelona, it seems like the Argentine is well on his way to a fifth Golden Shoe.

STANDINGS

1. Mohamed Salah, Liverpool, 29 goals (58 points)

2. Lionel Messi, Barcelona, 29 goals (58 points)

3. Robert Lewandowski, Bayern Munich, 26 goals (52 points)

4. Ciro Immobile, Lazio, 26 goals (52 points)

5. Jonas, Benfica, 33 goals (49.5 points)

6. Edinson Cavani, PSG 24 goals (48 points)

7. Harry Kane, Tottenham, 24 goals (48 points)

8. Mauro Icardi, Inter Milan, 24 goals (48 points)

9. Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid, 22 goals (44 points)

10. Luis Suarez, Barcelona, 22 goals (44 points)

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Ernesto Valverde praises Luis Enrique as Barcelona equal stunning record

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Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde was quick to share the plaudits with his predecessor Luis Enrique after the Catalan giants equalled a La Liga record in their win over Leganes.

Barca’s 3-1 victory, secured by the 45th hat-trick of Lionel Messi’s career, not only moved them 12 points clear at the summit but saw them match Real Sociedad’s all-time of 38 successive La Liga games without defeat.

Sociedad set the record between 1979 and 1980 and Barca have also achieved it over two campaigns, with 31 this season coming on the back of seven games last term.

While most of the run has been compiled under Valverde, the 54-year-old – who replaced Enrique in the summer – refused to take all the acclaim.

He said: “We have matched an all-time record and that is especially exciting for me. It’s not easy to do something that hasn’t been done for such a long time.

“But it’s not just my record. It also belongs to Luis Enrique and everyone who played for the team last year.”

He added: “It’s a shared record which has been carried on from one season.

“It’s been difficult to achieve. It’s an historic record, it’s been there for many years, which shows you the competitiveness of the team.”

Regarding the match, which saw Messi net twice in the first half before completing his hat-trick late on after Nabil El Zhar had pulled a goal back for Leganes in the 68th minute, Valverde admitted they made things difficult for themselves.

He said: “The game has brought us three very important points. We had a great first half but we didn’t read things right in the second. It was normal enough for us to ease off the pace, but when you are only winning 2-0 you can’t afford to get too confident.”

Defender Gerard Pique added on his club’s website: “We had a great first half and then eased off in the second. The important thing is that we are still comfortably poised at the top of the table

“The all-time unbeaten record is the result of getting things right all season.”

Provided by Press Association Sport

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