The team celebrates Lionel Messi's goal / PHOTO: Miguel Ruiz - FCB

Vital victory at the Ciutat de València (1-2) which allows Barça to maintain the four-point gap with Real Madrid at the top of the table. After the match, Lionel Messi, with two goals, said he was very happy to win the three points against this season’s surprise team. “We knew it was a difficult ground, Levante are having a fantastic season and we managed to get a great result,” said Messi while walking off the pitch.

However, the Argentine highlighted the difficulty of taking on Juan Ignacio Martínez’s side: “at this point in the season every team is playing for something important. These matches are very complicated.”

On form and headed to London

After securing Barça’s 11th consecutive victory in La Liga, Messi congratulated his teammates for keeping the winning streak alive. “We have to continue like this,” said the Argentine, “now it’s time to think about Chelsea, this is the most important match. It will be more difficult than the match against Levante.”

La Liga goal-scoring rivalry

Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have made history in La Liga as they are both level on top of the goal scoring chart. Both players, with 41 goals apiece, have shattered the previous record in their struggle to win the Pichichi award. Despite the ongoing duel, Messi highlighted the importance of the team’s success ahead of his own: “things are going well for us, but what’s really important is that we’re both fighting for La Liga title.

“I’m happy that I scored because the team won,” concluded Messi as he walked down the tunnel that leads to the dressing rooms.

Here are the statements made by FC Barcelona players after tonight’s match against Levante:

Víctor Valdés:

“Very hard-fought victory. I’m proud of the work that we did. I congratulate Levante for how they played, they are a very good team.”

Pedro Rodríguez:

“It was a very difficult match, we knew that it was a complicated ground to play in. They had the early advantage but we managed to fight back.

“We dominated the whole match. After the penalty against us it was more difficult because they closed themselves off and their defence is very strong. For this reason it was so difficult to mount a comeback, but our insistence to play on the wings allowed the team to fight back. We’re very pleased.

“We’re facing a very difficult week. We’ll work hard and prepare for our upcoming matches.

“It was hard to reduce the gap with Real Madrid. We’ll try to prepare for next Saturday's match well to keep our title hopes alive in La Liga. The Clásico is important to both us and them.”

Cesc Fàbregas:

“It’s clear that we can improve. It was a very difficult match but we managed it well.

“We’ve gained a lot of ground on Madrid. We went to the Vicente Calderón with a 13-point disadvantage and now were only 4 away. Despite it all, now it’s time to focus on Chelsea and forget about La Liga for a couple of days.

“This was one of our most difficult away matches, but we still have a few tough matches away from home. La Liga is still out of our hands. We won’t depend on ourselves even if we beat Real Madrid. There are a few matches left but the end of La Liga is still a long way off.

“Barça have a great fighting spirit, we’re very competitive.”

Thiago Alcántara:

“We stopped thinking about the Liga in the second half. We gave it our all and we can now enjoy one of our most difficult victories.

“This is a very complicated stadium to play in, Levante are a fantastic team.

“I’m willing to play in any position. The objective is to always look for the win.

“The Club’s philosophy is incredible. It’s a joy for us youngsters, we have to be thankful to the Club for giving us confidence.

“Chelsea is a very complicated rival, they’re a historic European club. It will be a beautiful playoff.”

Isaac Cuenca:

“It was fairly difficult, but we knew that what we were facing when we went up against Levante. It was complicated because they let us have the wings but it was hard to get good crosses in. In the end everything worked out and we won the three points.

“I believe it was a penalty, I was pushed and the linesman saw it and the referee called it.

“We’re going to give it our all in London to get a good result for the return leg at the Camp Nou.”

Training session on Sunday

Barça will hold a closed-door training session this Sunday at 12:30 at the Ciutat Esportica Sant Joan Despí. Javier Mascherano will hold a post-training press conference.

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