Match of the Week

SOCCER 2008: Barcelona Beats Valencia 4-0

*No matter what time of year, no matter what continent one is on, on any given weekend one can catch an entertaining soccer game. The key is to know where to look. Well, look no further -- here's a weekly feature that will preview (and eventually recap) my favorite match of the weekend. Consider this your open thread for all of the weekend's matches.*

**The Match:** Valencia at Barcelona. Honorable mention for Match of the Week is Manchester United v. Fulham (8:30 a.m., Sunday, FSC).

**TV:** 1 p.m., Sunday, ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes

**Quick Preview:** Match of the Week visits Spain for the second week in a row this Sunday, when second-place Barcelona will take on third-place Valencia. Barcelona will be looking to get back on top of the La Liga table with a home win. They lost their lead -- which had lasted much of the season -- last weekend. Valencia will do their best to inch closer to Spain's vaunted top two -- which sit a comfortable 15 points ahead of David Villa and his teammates.

**Prediction:** 3-1 Barcelona.

Barcelona took down Valencia 3-0. So close to my prediction.... Full highlights and a quick recap after the jump. Barcelona's Leo Messi netted a hat trick as Barcelona got back on form, drubbing third place Valencia 3-0. Messi started his banner day in the 56th minute, when he absolutely destroyed three Valencia defenders off the dribble before firing a low strike near post. But it was only the beginning of the dream evening for Messi, who would score again in the 81st and 83rd minutes -- both times set up by fellow striker Thierry Henry. Messi's second came after Henry picked him out with a pinpoint cross-field pass, which he immediately took to goal. After gliding by one man, the little Argentinian fired a left footed curler towards the far post, snugly fitting it inside the far bar. With the game already sealed, Messi turned into the hat trick hero in the 83rd when he calmly slotted home after an Henry flick.

Enjoy the highlights. It isn't too often you get to see a goal like that first one...

I'll be back tomorrow with a column summing up the Fire's offseason to date. Until then...

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