Barcelona Villarreal: In Focus - Neymar

Real have a game in hand, however, and will win a first domestic title since 2012 if they take seven points from their remaining three games.

Real could also win a league and European Cup double for the first time since 1958 as they are 3-0 up in their Champions League semi-final tie with Atletico Madrid, with the second leg taking place on Wednesday.

Messi's first cancelled out Cedric Bakambu's equaliser, while his second rounded off the scoring, with Luis Suarez having given the hosts a two-goal cushion.

The Catalans' hopes of winning a third straight title now rest on Real losing one of their remaining games.

Only Cristiano Ronaldo (12) has netted more goals against Villarreal in La Liga than Lionel Messi (9).

Messi's 50th and 51st this season arrives in his 49th game, with four of his goals coming in Barcelona's journey to the Copa del Rey final.

Madrid will play Granada later tonight.

The Argentina worldwide is in no hurry to renew his deal at the Nou Camp and is particularly keen to get the right offer following recent bumper renewals for Neymar and Luis Suarez.

Villarreal refused to be drawn into Barcelona's trap early on and the hosts' sedate pace of play was summed up when Messi wafted a 20-yard free-kick into Andres Fernandez's arms, but they raised the tempo to take the lead a minute later.

Barcelona's wonderful "MSN" strikeforce of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar have scored 100 goals for the third consecutive season. Villarreal sit five points behind Jorge Sampaoli's men with just three games to go.

The Barca talisman skipped past the challenge of Rodri before slotting the ball into the bottom corner from outside the box, with a slight deflection leaving Fernandez wrong-footed in the Villarreal goal.

And, after seeing his forward line run riot, coach Luis Enrique spoke of his unique Barca side breaking the mould by possessing three genuine stars. The Brazilian has scored just 16 goals this season but his strikes have been vital to his side.

Here is how he fared at the Nou Camp on Saturday evening as he helped Barca pile more pressure on Real Madrid at the top of the table.

  • Julie Sanders


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