Lionel Messi aiming for on-field brilliance against Osasuna amid continuing controversies

After inspiring Barcelona to the Copa Del Rey final, their illustrious number-ten will turn his attentions to their late-mounted title charge, starting with a trip to Osasuna on Saturday.

The torrid turmoil of Barcelona's boardroom collapse continued this week as a search and seize operation by Catalonian police led to the arrest of four senior club officials including their president, Josep Bartomeu in connection to last year's 'Barcagate' smear campaign.

As pressing off-field matters continue to plague the reputation of a European footballing powerhouse, Barcelona captain Lionel Messi and his team face an uphill challenge of different proportions entirely on the field as they look to recover their erratic season thus far.

Returning to winning ways at the weekend, Messi inspired an impressive victory for Blaugrana away at high-flying Sevilla with a goal and an assist, to continue his dominance in the La Liga golden boot race as Barca went within two points of league leaders, Atletico Madrid.

Blaugrana wrote yet another chapter of their acclaimed footballing history on Tuesday - in their second game with Sevilla in four days - overturning a first-leg two-goal deficit to beat Los Sevillistas 3-2 on aggregate as they booked their place in the final of the Copa Del Rey.

Further adding to his impressive tally this season so far, the fascinating forward has 19 goals in La Liga so far - edging him ahead of close friend and ex-team-mate Luis Suarez - and 24 goals in all competitions this season, with nine assists for good measure.

Statistics prove that Messi has been the most in-form player in the world in 2021 so far and his next potential victim to add to his lengthy list of scalps is a mid-table Osasuna side in Pamplona on Saturday.

Ronald Koeman's side breezed past their upcoming opponents in this season's reverse fixture with a comfortable 4-0 victory as Messi made the scoresheet, and with his current form and immaculate record against them, a repeat of this scoreline would surprise very few.

Tip of the fixture

As Barcelona continue to endure problems off the field, the best way for those on it to respond would be to record another resounding victory.

Paddy Power are offering odds of 16/1 for Koeman's side to win 4-0 and 35/1 odds of them to win 5-0.

(Odds correct at time of writing, subject to change).

Let's take a look at the Barcelona captain's statistics against Osasuna.

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Stat attack

Messi has recorded an astounding 32 goal contributions against Jagoba Arrasate's side in 21 games throughout his outstanding career so far, meaning the iconic Argentinian averages 1.5 contributions every game against the northern Spaniards.

The Barca legend has scored more than one goal on a third of his appearances against Los Rojillos, notching up four braces and two hat-tricks, scoring more than three on one occasion with a four-goal return against them in 2013 - more on that later.

With 17 victories, two draws and just two losses against Osasuna, Messi has an extraordinary win percentage of 80% against them.

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A number of notable high-scoring fixtures in recent years means that any game involving Messi and Osasuna has produced a high average of 3.6 goals per match.

Barcelona have only conceded eight goals when Messi has been present on the pitch, keeping 13 clean sheets and conceding an average of 0.38 goals per game.

Will we see another Barcelona decimation of Osasuna at the weekend? Or will the home side capitalise on the current chaos in Catalonia and frustrate Messi and co.?

Let's look at the Argentine's best games in recent memory against Arrasate's men.

Memorable matches

Barcelona 5-1 Osasuna

La Liga

January 27, 2013

As many teams in European football have discovered, Lionel Messi is impossible to stop when you have a full team, but when Jose Mendilibar's side were reduced to 10 men after just 27 minutes, he ran riot - scoring four goals in a five-star Barcelona performance.

Messi's brilliance in this tie shone from the outset, opening the scoring in the 11th minute as he bamboozled the Osasuna goalkeeper with a jinxing run to tap into an empty goal following a routine assist from Xavi.

Despite responding with an equaliser, it was curtains for the Pamplona outfit on the half hour mark when centre-back Alejandro Arribas was shown red for a deliberate handball which in turn allowed the Argentine to double his tally and regain Barcelona's lead from the penalty spot.

Following Pedro's third five minutes before half-time, Messi began the second half in the same vain in which he started the first, completing his hat-trick 10 minutes in after geniusly rounding the keeper and adding his fourth just two minutes later from close range.

Basking in the glory of another majestic performance, the Camp Nou faithful were treated to a magisterial Messi performance that ensured Osasuna never had a chance.

Barcelona 8-0 Osasuna

La Liga

September 17, 2011

In a series of brilliant events that only Barcelona's illustrious number 10 is capable of, Messi scored a hat-trick and provided two assists as the Catalonians put eight goals past a hopeless Osasuna side at Camp Nou.

The amazing Argentine broke the deadlock after just five minutes through a precise finish at the back post with his weaker right foot, before creating the second only two minutes later with a perfectly-weighted lobbed pass for Cesc Fabregas to volley home.

After a cool finish from David Villa and a Roversio own goal gave Blaugrana a dominant four-goal lead before the half-time whistle had even been blown, Messi made the lead unassailable when he scored a fifth on the 41-minute mark with a low-driven strike past Alvaro Fernandez.

Effortlessly switching between scorer and provider, the Argentine was on hand to assist Xavi for a sixth, as he struck an exquisite left-footed pass to the Spanish midfield maestro who converted in style with a superb chip.

Adding further insult to injury, Villa was on hand to make it seven after a series of defensive schoolboy errors from Los Rojillos enabled Fabregas to unselfishly roll the ball across to his compatriot, who tapped into an empty net.

Completing a night of Barcelona brilliance, Messi grabbed a much-deserved hat-trick goal with a textbook La Masia move - after brilliant build-up play worked the ball through the Osasuna half, he finished a quick one-two with Fabregas to complete a perfect night for Pep Guardiola's men.

Barcelona 7-0 Osasuna

La Liga

March 16, 2014

Yet another Catalonian decimation saw Barcelona record another seven-goal victory margin against Osasuna, as a Messi hat-trick inspired another relentless thrashing of Los Rojillos.

The hosts began the game incredibly, scoring three goals in 34 minutes, the first of which was scored by Messi as he poked in Alexis Sanchez's low-driven cross as the Chilean doubled the lead with a goal of his own and Andres Iniesta grabbed the third with a 25-yard strike.

As Barca refused to relent as the game entered its latter stages, their sanctimonious South American added a fourth goal, squeezing the ball through a tight angle after an interchange with Iniesta and substitute Christian Tello scored the fifth not long after.

Completing a historic hat-trick two minutes from normal time, Messi finished Dani Alves' testing pass before turning provider to allow Pedro to make it seven for the home side.

The tremendous trio of goals from Argentine saw him usurp Paulino Alcantara's record of 369 for most goals scored in competitive and non-competitive matches for Blaugrana.

Barcelona 7-1 Osasuna

La Liga

April 26, 2017

You have to feel sorry for Osasuna at this point. 

These four games alone have included 27 Barcelona goals, but that's just the Messi effect and, of course, this game is no anomaly.

The amazing Argentine took his tally to 49 goals in 48 games as a scintillating Blaugrana inflicted yet another dominating performance on Diego Martinez's side to maintain their position atop La Liga, as their opponents slumped to a heartbreaking relegation.

Catching the visitors out early in the first half, Messi utilised his sublime initiative to intercept the ball as Osasuna attempted to pass the ball out from defence, allowing him to chip the goalkeeper in cool fashion.

Starting the second half two goals to the good thanks to an Andre Gomes strike, the hosts were marginally rocked when Roberto Torres halved the deficit for Osasuna with a ferocious free-kick, as they pushed on for a second.

Much to the visitor's disappointment however, they were unable to capitalise on their lifeline as Barcelona struck five times past them in the second half, as Messi and Gomes both completed their braces in a direct replication of the first half's events.

Taking control of the game, Blaugrana netted another three goals in the game's closing stages, the pick of the bunch being an incredibly rare addition to the scoresheet for Javier Mascherano - who scored his first goal for the club in six years.

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