Topic - Lionel Messi

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  • Barcelona's coach Gerardo Martino of;;owe the action from the side line during the final of the Copa del Rey between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid at the Mestalla stadium in Valencia, Spain, Wednesday, April 16, 2014. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

    Barcelona defends Messi, offers better contract

    Barcelona's president and manager defended Lionel Messi on Saturday from criticism for his erratic play during the team's recent collapse, and made sure to stamp out any talk of the club's all-time leading scorer leaving Camp Nou.

  • Barcelona's Neymar sits after Real Madrid won the final of the Copa del Rey between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid at the Mestalla stadium in Valencia, Spain, Wednesday, April 16, 2014. (AP Photo/Alberto Saiz)

    Barcelona faces end of winning era

    Barring a drastic turn of fortune, Barcelona is on the brink of finishing its worst season since former coach Pep Guardiola molded it into one of the most successful teams to play soccer.

  • Barcelona's Neymar sits after Real Madrid won the final of the Copa del Rey between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid at the Mestalla stadium in Valencia, Spain, Wednesday, April 16, 2014. (AP Photo/Alberto Saiz)

    Barcelona faces end of winning era

    Barring a drastic turn of fortune, Barcelona is on the brink of finishing its worst season since former coach Pep Guardiola molded it into one of the most successful sides to play the game.

  • Barcelona's Lionel Messi from Argentina gestures during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between FC Granada and FC Barcelona at Los Carmenes stadium in Granada, Spain, Saturday, April 12, 2014. (AP Photo/Daniel Tejedor)

    Barcelona faces Ronaldo-less Madrid in Copa final

    Out of the Champions League and stumbling in Spain, Barcelona faces Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey final in likely its best chance to win some silverware this season.

  • Barcelona's Neymar, left, fights for the ball with Atletico's Juanfran during the Champions League quarterfinal second leg soccer match between Atletico Madrid and FC Barcelona in the Vicente Calderon stadium in Madrid, Spain, Wednesday, April 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Paul White)

    Atletico beats Barcelona to reach Champions semis

    Atletico Madrid finally got the better of Spanish rival Barcelona on Wednesday as Koke's early goal guided his team to a 1-0 win and into the Champions League semifinals with a 2-1 aggregate victory.

  • Atletico's Raul Garcia, center right, celebrates his goal with teammates during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Atletico Madrid and  Villarreal at the Vicente Calderon stadium in Madrid, Spain, Saturday, April 5, 2014. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

    Atletico eyes Champs semifinals at Barca expense

    Atletico Madrid is on the cusp of reaching the semifinals of Europe's top-tier competition for the first time in 40 years as it welcomes Barcelona to its Vicente Calderon Stadium on Wednesday for the return leg of their Champions League quarterfinal.

  • Dortmund's Marco Reus, right, scores a goal against Wolfsburg goalkeeper Max Gruen during  the German Bundesliga soccer match between Borussia Dortmund and VfL Wolfsburg in Dortmund,  Germany, Saturday, April 5, 2014, 2014. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

    Real holds comfortable 3-0 lead in Dortmund

    Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund met four times last season in the Champions League and Dortmund won both home games, including a 4-1 win that led to Madrid's elimination in the semifinals.

  • Atletico's Raul Garcia, second left, partly seen, celebrates his goal with teammates during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Atletico Madrid and  Villarreal at the Vicente Calderon stadium in Madrid, Spain, Saturday, April 5, 2014. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

    Atletico wins to stay top, Messi keeps Barca 2nd

    Atletico Madrid sweated out a 1-0 victory over Villarreal without leading scorer Diego Costa to stay top of the Spanish league on Saturday, while Lionel Messi scored two goals in Barcelona's 3-1 win over Real Betis to stay one point behind.

  • Barcelona's Neymar celebrates after scoring his sides first goal during a first leg quarterfinal Champions League soccer match between Barcelona and Atletico Madrid at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Tuesday April 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

    Atletico draws 1-1 at Barca in Champions League

    An equalizer from Neymar saw Barcelona salvage a 1-1 draw at home to Atletico Madrid on Tuesday after a stunning opener by Diego Ribas in the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal.

  • FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi, from Argentina, left, and Neymar, from Brazil, right, attend a a training session at the Sports Center FC Barcelona Joan Gamper in San Joan Despi, Spain, Monday, March 31, 2014. FC Barcelona will face Atletico Madrid in a first leg quarter-final Champions League soccer match on April 1. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

    Neymar lighting up social media, not Barcelona

    In his first season at Barcelona, there's been no escaping Neymar's public profile of selfies, tweets and big-money advertising campaigns. The message on the field, though, hasn't been quite so impressive.

  • Crystal Palace's Mile Jedinak, right, tussles with Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic during their English Premier League soccer match at Selhurst Park, London, Saturday, March 29, 2014. (AP Photo/Sang Tan)

    Chelsea loses but stays top; Spain's leading 3 win

    While Spain's top three all won, none of the England's leading sides could produce a victory on Saturday.

  • FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi scores a penalty during a Spanish La Liga soccer match against Espanyol at Cornella-El Prat stadium in Cornella Llobregat, Spain, Saturday, March 29, 2014. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

    Atletico, Barcelona win to say 1-2 in Spain

    Diego Costa sparked Atletico Madrid's exhilarating 2-1 comeback at Athletic Bilbao on Saturday, while Lionel Messi converted a late penalty to keep Barcelona one point behind the Spanish league leaders with a contentious 1-0 win at Espanyol.

  • FC Barcelona's  Neymar, from Brazil, reacts after scoring against Celta Vigo during a Spanish La Liga soccer match at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Wednesday, March 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

    Madrid loses to slip in race; Atletico, Barca win

    Real Madrid lost 2-1 at Sevilla on Wednesday in the aftermath of its stinging "clasico" defeat as it slipped behind in the Spanish title race, while Atletico Madrid and Barcelona kept winning to move ahead of their rival in the standings.

  • Barcelona's Lionel Messi from Argentina, left, celebrates his goal  during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu  stadium in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, March 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

    Barcelona, Messi stay top of AP global footy poll

    Lionel Messi's hat trick in Barcelona's win against Real Madrid gave voters an easy choice in the individual and team categories for The Associated Press weekly football poll.

  • Quotes from voters in AP Global Football 10

    Sam Tighe, Bleacher Report, United States

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Quotations
  • "We hope to play our best and earn a result that keeps us in the hunt," Messi said. "This is a unique opportunity to move in on Madrid. It's not going to be easy going up against a great team, away from home, but we'll give it a shot."

    5 things to know for Spanish league before clasico →

  • "We hope we can play a great game," Messi said about the upcoming clash at the Santiago Bernabeu. "We know it will be difficult, but we will do all we can to fight for the league title until the very end. We received a lot of criticism after the Valladolid match. We knew we didn't play well and this (win) boosts our confidence."

    Messi nets 3, Barca routs Osasuna 7-0 →

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