Barcelona travels to Valencia in Spanish league, Real Madrid goes to Malaga



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MADRID — Lionel Messi will be looking for a hat trick of hat tricks when Barcelona takes on Valencia in the Spanish league on Sunday.

The Argentina forward scored three goals last weekend against Sevilla to become the Spanish league's all-time leading scorer with 253. A few days later, he scored another hat trick in a 4-0 win over APOEL to break the Champions League record with 74 goals.

Despite Messi's prolific scoring, Barcelona is still in second place in the league, two points behind Real Madrid.

Madrid visits Malaga on Saturday.

Here are some things to know about this weekend's Spanish league matches:


SCORING SUAREZ

Messi will make the trip to Valencia is superb form, while teammate Luis Suarez is steadily regaining his after serving a four-month ban for biting a player at the World Cup.

Suarez scored the other goal against APOEL on Tuesday, his first competitive goal for Barcelona.

"I knew sooner or later the goal would arrive," the Uruguay striker said.


COMPLACENCY WARNING

Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti has equaled predecessor Jose Mourinho's record 15-match winning streak, but there are plenty more games still to come.

"The most important thing is to not get carried away," Madrid forward Gareth Bale said. "We must take each game as it comes, and try and perform the best we can."

Injury has hampered Bale this season, giving substitute Francisco "Isco" Alarcon a chance to shine. But Ancelotti may prefer solid teamwork at sixth-place Malaga with Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo leading the attack.

"He's helping me become a better player," Bale said.


THIRD MAN

While the focus has been on Messi and Suarez, Neymar has been quietly efficient, scoring 13 goals in 15 matches in all competitions.

With the Brazilian on the field, Barcelona has won eight of 11 league games.

"Neymar and Messi obviously know each other well because they played together last season," Barcelona coach Luis Enrique said. "I believe the tough moments are behind us."


GRANADA'S GOALS

With a match against Sevilla coming up, Granada midfielder Francisco Medina thinks his team is ready to show that it is improving.

"We need to fine-tune our marksmanship on goal a bit more, and continue working at it, because in the end the rewards will come," Medina said.


ATLETICO'S ATTACK

Coming off big wins against Malaga and Olympiakos, Atletico Madrid could prove a handful for Deportivo La Coruna on Sunday.

The defending league champions are in third place, four points behind the leaders and two adrift of Barcelona.

"We defend well, we know what to do, but the attack must improve because we rely heavily on that aspect," Atletico midfielder Tiago Mendes said.

With Diego Costa gone, Mario Mandzukic has been working well as a replacement.

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