Messi Grabs Brace as Barcelona Beats Espanyol, Extends La Liga Lead

Barcelona's players celebrate after Barcelona's Uruguayan forward Luis Suarez scored during the Spanish league football match Villarreal CF against Barcelona at La Ceramica stadium in Vila-real

Pope Francis has insisted Lionel Messi is nothing compared to God but admits he is great player.

The 31-year-old has already won 19 major trophies at the Camp Nou, but worldwide success has so far eluded him.

Messi now leads the pack for the European Golden shoe award as his side are still in contention for domestic and continental trophies this season.

With five Ballon d'Or awards to his name, the 31-year-old has spent his entire his professional career at Barcelona, where he has won nine league titles, six Copa del Rey honours and four UEFA Champions League winner's medals.

Messi and the Argentina national team met Pope Francis in the summer of 2013 at the Vatican and the national team captain described the meeting as "short but handsome". You can't say it, I don't believe. "Do you believe you can?"

Jordi Evole: "I do."

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A five-time Ballon d'Or victor may not seem human to some, but Pope Francis feels it is wrong to bestow labels of "God" onto those who are mere mortals. I think people say "he is God" just as they say 'I adore you.' You have to adore only God. Those are expressions from people.

"(Saying) "He's a god with the ball on the pitch" is a popular way to express yourself.

"Of course, he is very good, but he isn't God", he added about one of only a couple of men perhaps more famous than "Papa Francisco" in the South American nation, the other being another footballer in Diego Maradona.

Barcelona maintains its strong lead atop of the table while Messi secured his 10th straight season with at least 40 goals in all competitions.

His ingenuity again came to play on Saturday, March 30, as he bagged a brace for Barcelona in the club's 2-0 victory over Espanyol at the Camp Nou.

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