Aragon, Spain – Barcelona will look to build upon its Champions League progression and inch closer to claiming the La Liga title when it heads to La Romareda to take on Real Zaragoza on Sunday.
The Catalans made it through to the semifinals of Europe's top club competition following its 1-1 home draw with PSG. Barcelona's aggregate win looked to be in doubt after Javier Pastore had given PSG the lead, but Lionel Messi, who began the match on the bench as an injury precaution, rescued his side by helping to set up Pedro for the equalizer.
It was a far cry from Barcelona's last La Liga contest, which concluded as a 5-0 victory over Mallorca. Messi missed that match through his hamstring injury as Cesc Fabregas' hat trick and Alexis Sanchez's brace proved that the Catalans are not simply a one-man show.
But that notion was supported on Wednesday as Messi's appearance off the bench helped spark Barcelona's comeback against the Ligue 1 side.
Pedro even spoke to how important a cog Messi is to the Barcelona machine.
"Messi is a very important player and he put in a great effort," the Spanish attacker said. "He was the catalyst. We changed after he came on and we have to thank him for that."
David Villa, who provided the link between Messi and Pedro for the vital goal against PSG, echoed Pedro's sentiments.
"Messi is the best player in the world and he changed the game just by being on the pitch," Villa told Canal Plus after the match. "We have to congratulate him for his show of commitment to the team and to football. It is thanks to him, and everyone else, that we have qualified."
It is unclear what type of role Messi will play at La Romareda as the club announced that the Argentine will "will keep on his established recuperative therapy and his evolution will determine his availability for future matches."
While Barcelona comes into the weekend 13 points ahead of second-place Real Madrid, Real Zaragoza has a battle against relegation on its hands. The club's 13-game winless run in league leaves it one point above the drop zone with 27 points from 30 matches.
Leading in to Barcelona's trip to La Romareda on Sunday, Rayo Vallecano will welcome fourth-place Real Sociedad to the Teresa Rivero while Atletico Madrid hosts Granada at the Vicente Calderon. Real Madrid and Athletic Bilbao will wrap up Sunday's action when the two sides meet at San Mames.
On Saturday. Deportivo goes for its fourth straight league win when it heads to the Ciutat de Valencia to take on Levante, Getafe squares off against Valladolid at the Jose Zorrilla, Espanyol hosts Valencia at the Estadi Cornella-El Prat and Malaga faces Osasuna at La Rosaleda.
Monday's lone La Liga match is a relegation "six-pointer" as last-place Mallorca welcomes second-from-bottom Celta Vigo to the Iberostar Stadium, and Friday's only contest in the Spanish top flight saw Real Betis come from three goals down against Sevilla to snatch a 3-3 draw.