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The Camp Nou bowed at the feet of Lionel Messi once again on Saturday, his 38th career hat-trick leading the way in the 5-0 victory in the derby against Espanyol. With 20 goals in these fixtures, he is now the all-time top scorer.
Messi scored two before the break and grabbed his third in the second half after Jordi Alba’s second assist of the night for the Argentinian. There were the home debuts of Paulinho and Dembélé to enjoy. Let's review the best derby stats:
- Messi's 38th hat-trick: Barça's No.10 scored his 27th La Liga hat-trick on Saturday (seven more have come in the Champions League, three in the Copa del Rey and one in the Spanish Super Cup). It’s the third time the Argentinian has plundered a treble against Espanyol. Valencia are his favourite hat-trick victims, Messi scoring three on four separate occasions against Los Che.
- Messi's 20 goals in the derby: Leo Messi remains the top scorer in these games. In addition, he had 100% effectiveness in front of goal. Three shots, three goals.
- Debuts from Dembélé and Paulinho: The French player received an ovation at the Camp Nou and he made his mark in the final minute with an exquisite first time assist for Luis Suárez. Paulinho was solid in midfield and almost scored after a run from deep.
- Assistant Jordi Alba: Valverde's plan is to have more players centrally, leaving Messi free, Suárez advanced as the only striker and Deulofeu on the right side, which allows Alba to use the left channel exclusively. He took advantage of the extra room against Espanyol, assisting twice. It is the second time Alba has set up two goals in a game, the first was against Osasuna in 2016.
- A spectacular streak of goals in the derbies: Since the last time Espanyol won at the Camp Nou in 2009, Barça have scored a total of 31 goals and only conceded two in the nine La Liga derbies at the stadium.
- Umtiti and Piqué: The Catalan defender scored a great goal towards the end, from a corner. It was his fourth goal in the derby (two in the League and two in the Cup). Both goals in the League have been from Rakitic's assists and both times Barça have scored five goals. (5-0 on Saturday, 5-1 in 14/15). As for the Frenchman, no one got the better of him throughout the 90 minutes. Umtiti recorded 92 completed passes of the 98 he attempted, and made no fouls in the whole game.
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