Barcelona's Lionel Messi (right) scores against Eibar's Serbian goalkeeper Marko Dmitrovic during the Spanish league football match FC Barcelona against SD Eibar at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, February 22 2020. Picture: JOSEP LAGO / AFP
Barcelona's Lionel Messi (right) scores against Eibar's Serbian goalkeeper Marko Dmitrovic during the Spanish league football match FC Barcelona against SD Eibar at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, February 22 2020. Picture: JOSEP LAGO / AFP

Madrid — Lionel Messi scored four goals and Barcelona reclaimed top spot in La Liga as Real Madrid suffered a surprise defeat by Levante on Saturday, a week before the Classico.

Madrid’s nightmare afternoon was made worse by another injury to Eden Hazard, who was forced off in the second half of their 1-0 defeat in Valencia and is now doubtful to face Manchester City on Wednesday in the Champions League.

“It doesn’t look good,” said Real coach Zinedine Zidane.

Messi, meanwhile, ridiculed talk of a drought by scoring four goals against Eibar after four games without one, while emergency signing Martin Braithwaite made two assists off the bench, teeing up Messi and then Arthur Melo in injury-time.

Their 5-0 rout, coupled with Madrid’s defeat, means Barca move back to the summit of La Liga, two points ahead of Zidane’s side ahead of Saturday’s showdown at the Santiago Bernabeu.

“We’ve had good times this season and now this is a bad time,” said Zidane. “Now we have a week where everything is at stake.”

It amounts to a considerable shift in momentum, with Barcelona away at Napoli in the first leg of the Champions League last 16 on Tuesday.

Madrid host City a day later and the plan had been for Hazard to regain form and fitness in what was his second start since returning from three months out with a broken right foot.

But the Belgian sat in the dug-out with an ice pack around the same foot after going off and Zidane suggested it was a repeat injury after the match.

AFP