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National Post Sports

Atletico Madrid fans show their colours during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final second leg match between Club Atletico de Madrid and FC Barcelona at Vicente Calderon Stadium on April 9, 2014 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Atletico Madrid fans show their colours during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final second leg match between Club Atletico de Madrid and FC Barcelona at Vicente Calderon Stadium on April 9, 2014 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Lionel Messi scored a hat trick as Barcelona opened its Champions League campaign with a dominant 4-0 win over Ajax on Wednesday.

It was a different story for Jose Mourinho, though, as Chelsea made a losing start for the first time as Basel came from behind to win 2-1 in London and add to the difficulties of the “Special One” during his Stamford Bridge homecoming.

Last season’s runner-up Borussia Dortmund also had a bad night, losing 2-1 at Napoli with both coach Juergen Klopp and goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller being sent off.
(Photo by Josep Lago/AFP/Getty Image)

Lionel Messi scored a hat trick as Barcelona opened its Champions League campaign with a dominant 4-0 win over Ajax on Wednesday.

It was a different story for Jose Mourinho, though, as Chelsea made a losing start for the first time as Basel came from behind to win 2-1 in London and add to the difficulties of the “Special One” during his Stamford Bridge homecoming.

Last season’s runner-up Borussia Dortmund also had a bad night, losing 2-1 at Napoli with both coach Juergen Klopp and goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller being sent off.

(Photo by Josep Lago/AFP/Getty Image)

Neymar is already a hit in Barcelona: The Brazilian star arrived in Barcelona on Monday to complete his deal with the Catalan club, which will see him form a formidable attacking partnership with Lionel Messi.

Neymar travelled straight to Spain from Brazil’s friendly with England in Rio de Janeiro and is set to sign a five-year contract on Monday after choosing Barcelona over Real Madrid, bringing an end to an intense bidding war between the fierce rivals.

Neymar’s flight from Brazil arrived an hour behind schedule at around 1 p.m. local time. Decked out in solid black with sunglasses and a baseball cap, he headed straight to Camp Nou where he took his first photograph in front of the blue and burgundy club insignia with over a hundred fans waiting for him, some wearing his shirt and waving Brazilian flags. (Photo: Lluis Gene/AFP/Getty Images)

Neymar is already a hit in Barcelona: The Brazilian star arrived in Barcelona on Monday to complete his deal with the Catalan club, which will see him form a formidable attacking partnership with Lionel Messi.

Neymar travelled straight to Spain from Brazil’s friendly with England in Rio de Janeiro and is set to sign a five-year contract on Monday after choosing Barcelona over Real Madrid, bringing an end to an intense bidding war between the fierce rivals.

Neymar’s flight from Brazil arrived an hour behind schedule at around 1 p.m. local time. Decked out in solid black with sunglasses and a baseball cap, he headed straight to Camp Nou where he took his first photograph in front of the blue and burgundy club insignia with over a hundred fans waiting for him, some wearing his shirt and waving Brazilian flags. (Photo: Lluis Gene/AFP/Getty Images)

Eric Abidal, who fought back from a liver transplant to rejoin the team this season, went on to a standing ovation to play his final 14 minutes for Barcelona on Sunday after the club didn’t offer to prolong his six-year stint. (Photo by Lluis Gene/AFP/Getty Images)

Eric Abidal, who fought back from a liver transplant to rejoin the team this season, went on to a standing ovation to play his final 14 minutes for Barcelona on Sunday after the club didn’t offer to prolong his six-year stint. (Photo by Lluis Gene/AFP/Getty Images)

Barcelona’s players celebrate during a ceremony at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on May 19, 2013 after winning the Spanish League title. Barcelona celebrated lifting the La Liga trophy for a 22nd time with a 2-1 win over Valladolid. Photo: LLuis Gene/AFP/Getty Images)

Barcelona’s players celebrate during a ceremony at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on May 19, 2013 after winning the Spanish League title. Barcelona celebrated lifting the La Liga trophy for a 22nd time with a 2-1 win over Valladolid. Photo: LLuis Gene/AFP/Getty Images)

Lionel Messi got a new tattoo in tribute to his son Thiago. It’s an interesting choice … (Photo: Twitter/Leo Messi Fan Club/Matias Messi)

Want a foot to add to your gold collection? A Japanese jeweller created a $5.25M golden replica of Lionel Messi’s left foot for charity.

Want a foot to add to your gold collection? A Japanese jeweller created a $5.25M golden replica of Lionel Messi’s left foot for charity.

(Source: sports.nationalpost.com)

A fan stormed the field yesterday during a friendly between Argentina and Sweden. He also gave Lionel Messi a gigantic kiss. (Photo: Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)

A fan stormed the field yesterday during a friendly between Argentina and Sweden. He also gave Lionel Messi a gigantic kiss. (Photo: Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)


Barcelona’s relentless pace at the top of La Liga, fired by the insatiable Lionel Messi, has left their closest rivals Atletico and Real Madrid all but throwing in the towel before the midway point of the season.
Any doubts about Tito Vilanova’s abilities to take up where Pep Guardiola left off after four trophy-ladened seasons look to have been misplaced with Barca nine points clear of Atletico and 13 ahead of champions Real Madrid after only 16 games.
A 4-1 thrashing of Diego Simeone’s pretenders on Sunday, with another double from Messi, served to underline their dominance in a league where they have swept up 46 of 48 points so far.
Third-placed Real were held to a surprise 2-2 draw by Espanyol at the Bernabeu.
“Barca are left without rivals,” Catalonia-based daily Sport gloated on Monday. “The league isn’t won yet… but everyone thinks it is. (Photo: Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)

Barcelona’s relentless pace at the top of La Liga, fired by the insatiable Lionel Messi, has left their closest rivals Atletico and Real Madrid all but throwing in the towel before the midway point of the season.

Any doubts about Tito Vilanova’s abilities to take up where Pep Guardiola left off after four trophy-ladened seasons look to have been misplaced with Barca nine points clear of Atletico and 13 ahead of champions Real Madrid after only 16 games.

A 4-1 thrashing of Diego Simeone’s pretenders on Sunday, with another double from Messi, served to underline their dominance in a league where they have swept up 46 of 48 points so far.

Third-placed Real were held to a surprise 2-2 draw by Espanyol at the Bernabeu.

“Barca are left without rivals,” Catalonia-based daily Sport gloated on Monday. “The league isn’t won yet… but everyone thinks it is. (Photo: Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)

This does not look promising: Lionel Messi was carried off on a stretcher with an apparent knee injury as Barcelona was held to 0-0 by Benfica at Camp Nou in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Messi, who went on as a reserve in the 58th minute, collided with Benfica goalkeeper Artur in the 85th and was in obvious pain from his left knee.

Messi is only one goal short of tying Gurd Mueller’s 40-year-old record for most goals in a calendar year.