Barca in treble chase


MADRID. — Barcelona boss Luis Enrique said he is looking forward to the most “beautiful” part of the season as his side close in on another league Cup and Champions League treble.

Lionel Messi scored a hat-trick as Barca set a Spanish football record of 35 consecutive games unbeaten in all competitions with a 5-1 win at Rayo Vallecano on Thursday night.

Barca are well set for a sixth La Liga title in eight years as they lead Atletico Madrid by eight points and Real Madrid by 12 with just 11 games to go.

The Catalans will also face Sevilla in the Copa del Rey final and hold a 2-0 first-leg lead over Arsenal in the last-16 of the Champions League.

“We are approaching the final third of the season and the most beautiful part is still to come,” said Luis Enrique.

“We have to wait and see what we can achieve, but whatever we do it will be deserved.”

Despite their remarkable unbeaten run, the European champions haven’t always been at their best in recent weeks.

However, they looked back on top form at Vallecas despite their cause being eased as Rayo were reduced to nine-men.

“You always know the difficulties that a team like Rayo can present, but we overcame those in the best way with the attitude, intensity and ruthlessness we showed,” continued Enrique.

“We played very well and when we are at this level in terms of attitude and intensity, it is very hard for the opponents.”

The only negative on the night for the Catalans was another missed penalty as Luis Suarez failed to build on his two-goal lead over Cristiano Ronaldo in the fight to be La Liga’s top scorer when his spot-kick was brilliantly saved by Juan Carlos in the second-half.

Barca have now missed six of their 13 penalties in the league this season with the star front trio of Messi, Suarez and Neymar all missing twice.

“It is a facet we have to improve on, but it doesn’t overly concern me if we have the game wrapped up beforehand,” Enrique added.— AFP.

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