Managing Messi a privilege - Luis Enrique

Lionel Messi (AFP)
Lionel Messi (AFP)

Madrid - Barcelona boss Luis Enrique described the fortune to have Lionel Messi on his side a 'privilege' after the five-time World Player of the Year scored his 300th La Liga goal.

Messi scored twice in a 3-1 win at Sporting Gijon on Wednesday to take his tally to 301 league goals in 335 games as Barca extended their lead at the top of the table to six points.

"To be able to count on Leo is always a privilege no matter how the opponent plays," said Luis Enrique.

Barca are now heavy favourites to seal a fifth Liga title in seven years with Atletico Madrid their closest challengers and Real Madrid a further point adrift in third.

"I am optimistic in any situation and this is a favourable one," added Luis Enrique.

"But that doesn't mean anything because we all know that when the final games of the season approach, especially the last 10, the teams in trouble begin to win games and it becomes very difficult to take the points.

"We are where we want to be and we depend on ourselves."

The only negative for the European champions was another missed penalty, this time by Luis Suarez.

Messi had caused a worldwide sensation by passing a spot-kick into Suarez's path to complete his hat-trick in the 6-1 rout of Celta Vigo on Sunday.

However, between Messi, Suarez and Neymar, Barca have now missed seven of their 15 directly taken penalties this season.

It mattered little though, as Suarez made amends with a terrific finish for his 40th goal of the season 23 minutes from time.

"We want to improve in that aspect, but those that miss them are the ones that take the responsiblity to hit them.

"We have confidence in Leo, Luis and Ney. They are great penalty takers."

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