As the La Liga title race hots up, can Lionel Messi keep Barcelona’s momentum going?

With 27 goals to his name already this season, Lionel Messi will look to maintain his electric run of form so far against Real Sociedad at the weekend.

Barcelona continued their impressive start to 2021 in La Liga so far, comfortably beating Huesca 4-1 at the Camp Nou to remain just four points behind long-running league leaders, Atletico Madrid.

Scoring the goal of the match, Lionel Messi added another brilliant goal to his decorated arsenal of strikes so far as he broke the deadlock, sensationally turning to fire a superb left-footed strike home from 25 yards.

In a match where he equalled legendary midfield maestro Xavi for all-time Barcelona appearances, the golden boy of Catalonia scored a brace and recorded two assists in his 767th game for the club.

The brilliant brace brought the Argentine's tally for the season to 27 goals, with his ball for Mingueza taking his number of assists to 12, having played just 26 times this season.

Irrespective of form however, these statistics will mean nothing to La Liga's player of the month for February if he is to finish this season trophyless, even more so if he sees one of his fierce rivals lifting the league title before him.

Next up for Messi is a trip to Real Sociedad, a place where Barcelona have enjoyed few victories when visiting, but a team, Messi - like many other teams in Spain - loves a goal against.

Tip of the Fixture

Despite Sociedad's late push for a Champions League place, a Barcelona side determined to win a league title is usually a dangerous one, and the Catalonians should do enough to pick up another three points on the road.

Paddy Power are offering 12/1 odds on Ronald Koeman's side to pick up a 3-1 victory away from home.

Stat attack

With 16 goals and nine assists in 26 appearances against La Reales, Messi averages a goal contribution every 93 minutes against them.

The amazing Argentine has scored more than once on three occasions, scoring three braces, he is yet to record a hat-trick against them.

Messi is the fixture's top scorer, sitting firmly in first place - ahead of Cesar Rodriguez, John Aldridge, Rivaldo and Basora on the leaderboard.

He has failed to record a goal or assist seven times, blanking in 27% of his appearances against them, meaning his 25 contributions have come in just 19 games.

Barcelona's biggest victory with Messi on the field is 5-0, which they have recorded on two occasions, once in 2005/06 and another in the 2010/11 La Liga season.

The illustrious number 10 has a 65% win ratio against Imanol Alguicil's side, with 17 wins - Sociedad have been on the winning side against him on five occasions and the two sides have drawn four times.

All of Messi's defeats against them have come in away fixtures at the Anoeta Stadium in San Sebastian, and with another away fixture this weekend, he will be hoping to avoid another defeat there.

Memorable matches

FC Barcelona 3-2 Real Sociedad

La Liga

April 15, 2017

In an action-packed game dominated by it's five-goal first half, Lionel Messi provided an early brace and an assist to inspire a 3-2 victory for Blaugrana at the Camp Nou, in one of the matches of the season.

Messi gave Barcelona the lead with a venomous 25-yard strike that evaded a helpless Rui and put the hosts in front, before grabbing a second 20 minutes later with much less finesse, tapping into an empty goal after a scramble in the Sociedad box.

Barcelona halved their own lead when Samuel Umtiti put the ball past his own keeper, as the scoreline lead 2-1 and provided a glimmer of hope for La Reales to get back into the game.

The hosts' lead was re-extended to two when Messi provided for Paco Alcacer, who coolly finished to make it 3-1.

Valiantly fighting to level the affair, Sociedad sensationally pulled one back in stoppage time of the first half, as Xabi Prieto scored a clever half-volley at the back post for the visitors' second.

Certainly a game of two halves, a goalless second half saw out a well-earned 3-2 victory for Barcelona as they continued to breathe down the neck of league leaders Real Madrid, as Messi continued his electric run of form.

FC Barcelona 5-1 Real Sociedad

La Liga

August 19, 2012

Another five-goal, five-star first half settled this game too, as Messi scored a brace within the game's opening 10 minutes to seal an easy victory on the opening day of the new La Liga campaign and Tito Vilanova's first game as manager.

A rare opener from Carles Puyol put the hosts ahead when the centre-back leaped high to head home an outswinging Xavi corner, before Sociedad swiftly replied within five minutes to draw level.

But the scores weren't level for very long and neither was the time Lionel Messi spent without a goal, the Argentine sensationally swivelled through two Sociedad defenders to turn and rocket a shot into the roof of the goal to regain Barcelona's lead.

It didn't take long before Messi had a second, scoring his next goal less than five minutes after his first, poking home a half-volley on his stronger left foot from close range.

Pedro scored on the stroke of half-time to put the game beyond the reach of the visitors, as David Villa added insult to injury late on in the second half, making it 5-1 in his first competitive appearance of 2012.

Real Sociedad 2-4 Barcelona

La Liga

January 14, 2018

Messi provided an assist and scored a late goal to round off a superb Barcelona comeback as the Catalonian giants came from behind having been losing 2-0 at half-time, to maintain their unbeaten run in La Liga.

The hosts made an exceptional start to the game, newly-signed Wolves striker Willian Jose put them ahead after 11 minutes with a header and Juanmi doubled the lead later on with a deflected strike past Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Starting the second half emphatically, Barcelona pulled one back early as Paulinho slid in Luis Suarez's cross before the Uruguayan got a goal of his own after Messi picked him out to draw the game level.

As Sociedad capitulated, Barcelona thrived as Blaugrana ran riot to add two more goals. Suarez completed his brace after converting Thomas Vermaelen's testing header and Messi got a well deserved goal from a trademark free-kick.

A win for Barcelona broke a decade-long La Liga winless run for Barcelona in away games against Sociedad, having only taken two points from their previous seven games in the Basque Country.

Barcelona 1-0 Real Sociedad

La Liga

March 7, 2020

A late Messi penalty sealed a 1-0 win for Barcelona at the Camp Nou as they went two points clear of Real Madrid at the top of La Liga.

Blaugrana came close to scoring earlier on in the game through Martin Braithwaite, Ivan Rakitic and a Gerard Pique effort but were unable to break down La Reales.

Despite this however, they were awarded a golden opportunity to open the scoring in the 81st minute when Robin le Normand handled the ball in his own box.

Messi stepped up and ceremoniously converted to wrap up a vital win for Blaugrana to secure a crucial three points.

READ MORE: Real Madrid look to continue their unbeaten run with a win over Celta Vigo

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