Football: Barca aim for even more in 2016

Lionel Messi scored his 425th goal on his 500th appearance for Barcelona in the 4-0 victory over Real Betis. He echoed Luis Enrique's thoughts by saying that Barca want to continue their winning ways in 2016.
Lionel Messi scored his 425th goal on his 500th appearance for Barcelona in the 4-0 victory over Real Betis. He echoed Luis Enrique's thoughts by saying that Barca want to continue their winning ways in 2016.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

After winning 5 trophies in 2015, Enrique's men hope to win all 6 possible in the new year

BARCELONA • Barcelona head coach Luis Enrique is still not satisfied despite winning five trophies in 2015 and is aiming to do even better next year.

The Catalan side have been rampant in attack and a 4-0 victory over Real Betis on Wednesday set a new Spanish record of 180 goals in a calendar year and lifted Barca back to the top of the La Liga standings.

They followed their treble success last season by lifting the European Super Cup and the Club World Cup, their only defeat coming in the domestic Super Cup by Athletic Bilbao to stop them matching the six trophies won by Pep Guardiola's 2009 side.

"It has been a good year, I would give it a nine because we can always improve," Enrique told a news conference. "I am not going to get carried away and 2015 is already part of the past. It doesn't interest me at all and now I want to do better in 2016 which is the way a professional has to live."

Luis Suarez hit a double and Lionel Messi scored on his 500th appearance for Barca against Betis.

LOOKING AHEAD

It has been a good year, I would give it a nine because we can always improve. I am not going to get carried away and 2015 is already part of the past. It doesn't interest me at all and now I want to do better in 2016.

LUIS ENRIQUE, Barcelona head coach

Along with Neymar, the trio have scored 137 goals in 2015, and ended the year leading Atletico Madrid on goal difference and Real Madrid by two points. They also have a game in hand on Rafael Benitez's men.

"It has been a spectacular year and we wanted to finish it this way," said Messi.

"It will be difficult to improve on what we have done, but we always try. We have a great squad who are desperate to continue winning."

Barca were given a helping hand on their return to action after a shorter than normal 10-day winter break in Spain, though, as they were awarded a controversial penalty when Antonio Adan clashed with Messi after punching the ball to safety.

Neymar's resulting spot-kick came off the bar, but Heiko Westermann turned the ball into his own net from the rebound. Thereafter Barca were only denied an even greater rout by a series of fine saves by Adan and the woodwork.

  • 500

    Lionel Messi made his 500th Barcelona appearance on Wednesday.

    425

    He has 425 goals for the Catalan giants, an average of 0.85 goals a game.

    9

    When he has scored, Barcelona have lost only nine times.

    26

    Trophies the Argentinian has won with Barcelona.

A one-two between Neymar and Messi allowed the Argentinian to slot home his 425th Barca goal before Suarez rounded off the scoring in the second half.

"We just came back from the holidays so it is normal that the rhythm dips a bit and the games at the Club World Cup always take their toll," added Messi. "Possibly it wasn't a great game, but we managed to do the most important thing which was to win and start another important period well."

Their first opponents in the new year are Espanyol, with the Barcelona derby taking place tomorrow.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 01, 2016, with the headline 'Barca aim for even more in 2016'. Print Edition | Subscribe