In the week that he marked the 10th anniversary of his competitive debut for Barcelona, Lionel Messi could become the all-time top scorer in the history of La Liga.
The Argentine made his bow as a 17-year-old in a 1-0 win at city rivals Espanyol on October 16, 2004. Now he is preparing to face Eibar at the Camp Nou on Saturday needing just two goals to equal Telmo Zarra’s all-time Spanish top-flight record of 251, set in the 1950s.
Messi, who told fans he was “constantly trying to improve and win more titles,” has been back at his best in the early weeks of this season to help the Catalans to the top of La Liga with six wins and a draw in their opening seven games.
They are two points clear of Valencia and have yet to concede a goal so far, and they will want to keep that form going against Eibar before they go to Real Madrid for the first Clasico of the campaign next weekend.
“To go into the Clasico in the best possible condition we need to win on Saturday,” said left-back Jordi Alba.
“If we don’t win this one we we will suffer when we play in Madrid. Eibar have had good results away from home and if we don’t play at a high level they will make it difficult for us.”
Eibar will hope that Luis Enrique’s side are distracted by thoughts of Madrid and their Champions League meeting with Ajax in midweek, although the Basque side have had an impressive start to the season themselves.
The entire population of the town could fit into the Camp Nou three times and still leave empty spaces, but Gaizka Garitano’s side, in their debut top-flight season, currently have as many points as their far more illustrious neighbours Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad combined.