Barcelona took a huge step closer to La Liga title after picking up an important victory over second place Atletico Madrid.
As he so often is, Lionel Messi proved to be the difference maker after his first half free-kick extended La Blaugrana's undefeated run in La Liga and opened up their lead at the top of the table to eight points.
Left-back Jordi Alba has hailed his Barcelona teammate for leading them to victory on Sunday, and believes that this was a very important win in Barca's chase for the title.
Messi scored his 600th goal to beat Atletico and surely clinch La Liga for @FCBarcelona. If he were just a goal scorer it would be astonishing, but the fact he’s also the best dribbler I’ve ever seen and as good a passer as I’ve ever seen makes him the best I’ve ever seen. 🐐— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) March 4, 2018
"It isn't decisive, however this victory is significant to the league table," said Alba after the match (via Marca).
"They pushed us much more in the second half. If we had failed to win, the points difference would have lessened."
Barcelona managed to stop the resurgent Atletico, who were on an eight match win streak before their visit to the Camp Nou. Many eyes were also on Atleti's Antoine Griezmann, who had seven goals in his previous two matches. However, his Barcelona audition did not go as planned, as Lionel Messi once again stole the show.
"[Lionel] Messi is Barcelona," Alba added. "It's bad luck for them and any other team who isn't Barcelona."
Atletico boss Diego Simeone admitted that Messi was the difference maker on Sunday, and seemed to all but concede the league title to Barcelona. Messi netted his 600th career goal to sink Atleti hearts with his stunning free-kick.
"Simeone hasn't stated something new," Alba continued. "Messi is the best, but we must highlight the work of the team. Messi wins games but, without the work we all do, he wouldn't be able to do so."