BARCELONA, SPAIN - JANUARY 15: Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona celebrates after scoring from the penalty spot during the la Liga match between FC Barcelona and Real Betis Balompie at the Camp Nou stadium on January 15, 2012 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)

La Liga, Week 19: Messi Nets Hat Trick In Barcelona Win; Madrid-Bilbao Later

Lionel Messi netted a hat trick in a stunning performance against Malaga to pull within two points of Real Madrid, who face Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.

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Malaga Vs. Barcelona, 2012 La Liga: Lionel Messi A Hat Trick Hero

Barcelona showed no Clasico hangover on Sunday against Malaga, as Lionel Messi put together one of his best performances of the season. Ridiculous goals and multi-goal games from Messi are hardly out of the ordinary and rarely cause people to bat an eyelash, but even for him, this performance was special. His teammates weren't bad either, as the Blaugranas won 4-1 in Malaga.

Messi scored the first and only goal of the first half with a brilliant header on a cross by Adriano, and the game appeared to be over in the 48th minute when Alexis Sanchez scored off of a rebound, with Thiago Alcantara providing the initial shot on target. Barcelona's final two goals were classic Messi specials, with the little Argentinian weaving through multiple defenders to set himself up for brilliant finishes in the 51st and 81st minutes. In between the two goals, he hit the crossbar with a stunning free kick.

Jose Solomon Rondon scored in the 85th minute with a very well-placed finish, but would be Malaga's only goal. The home side forced a couple of early saves out of Victor Valdes early in the match, but until the Rondon goal, the second half completely belonged to Barcelona.

For more on the Blaugranes, check out Barca Blaugranes.

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Real Madrid Vs. Athletic Bilbao, 2012 La Liga Week 19: Surging Bilbao Look to Knock Off Los Merengues

Athletic Bilbao are on a roll and will look took take advantage of a potentially distracted Real Madrid.

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Malaga Vs. Barcelona, 2012 La Liga Week 19: Call It a "Must-Win" for the Blaugranes

Barcelona must focus on an important league match right in the middle of an El Clasico sandwich.

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