Barcelona ready to challenge Real Madrid in Copa del Rey

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World footballer of the year Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo hit top form ahead of their showdown in Spanish Copa del Rey semi-finals on Wednesday.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat-trick as Real Madrid beat Getafe 4-0 last weekend.

Messi is the current leading top scorer for Spain La Liga, with 33 goals this season including the four goals he scored in Barcelona victory over Osasuna.

Atletico Madrid without their talisman striker, R. Falcao, lost 3-0 at Athletic Bilbao.

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Atletico’s defeat means Barcelona stretch the lead to eleven points at the top while Real are now only four behind their city rivals in third place.

Mikel San Jose headed the first of the game from a corner on 50 minutes for Athletic Bilbao who move into twelfth.

Markel Susaeta doubled the lead on 77 minutes, finishing well after running onto a delightful through ball from Ander Herrera.

The third was again superb counter-attacking play from the Basques when Oscar De Marcos finished off a crisp passing move.

Atletico missed their top-scorer Radamel Falcao, out with injury, but had their chances in a game closer than the scoreline suggests.

Gorka Iraizoz was the hero in Bilbao’s goal, acrobatically blocking a Diego Costa header just before the interval before diving to save from Raul Garcia in the second period.

Messi earlier became the first player to score in eleven consecutive La Liga matches when he hit four as Barcelona eased past ten-man Osasuna.

Osasuna remain in the relegation zone on 18 points, two from safety.

Messi now has 33 goals for the season, 12 more than Cristiano Ronaldo.

It only took eleven minutes for Messi to open the scoring and claim another record.

A long through pass was cleared by Andres only as far as Xavi Hernandez, who found the Argentine in the area, Messi then produced a beautiful dummy to take him past the keeper before tapping home.

Raoul Loe levelled the game on 24 minutes against the run of play, but the side from Pamplona were left with ten men three minutes later when centre-half Alejandro Arribas saw a second yellow card after a shot struck his hand in the area.

Messi coolly slotted away the penalty for his second and Pedro Rodriguez made it three before half-time after a generous pass from Dani Alves left him with a tap in from close range.

The Argentine got his hat-trick on 56 minutes when he started a move in midfield, exchanged passes with Villa, and took the ball around the keeper before slotting home.

And a minute later it was five as he finished off a swift Barca attack and Adriano pass from close range.

All Real’s goals came in a much improved second-half performance in the derby against Getafe.

Sergio Ramos got the first before Ronaldo hit three in ten minutes, his first on 62 minutes after a sweeping counter-attack saw Mesut Ozil play the Portuguese star into space on the left for a crisp finish.

Three minutes later he finished off a Gonzalo Higuain cross with a simple header and completed his hat-trick from the penalty spot after Alberto Lopo had fouled Luka Modric.

Also on Sunday, Malaga moved into fourth with a 3-2 win at Mallorca, Javier Saviola and Isco got early goals for Malaga before Victor Casadesus pulled one back for the Balearic side.

Full back Nacho Monreal extended his side’s lead in the second-half before Malaga had Martin Dimechelis sent-off for a second yellow.

Giovanni Dos Santos pulled one back but Malaga’s ten men held out for an important win.

Rayo Vallecano beat Real Betis 3-0 to move into sixth, a place and a point behind the Seville-based side.

Piti got the South Madrid side off to a great start from the penalty spot on four minutes before Andrija Delibasic and Jose Carlos added second-half goals to make it five wins in six for Rayo.

Spain Primera Division results:
Barcelona 5 Osasuna 1
Real Madrid 4 Getafe 0
Rayo Vallecano 3 Real Betis 0
Real Mallorca 2 Malaga 3
Athletic Bilbao 3 Atletico Madrid 0

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