Lionel Messi scored his first goal of 2013 as FC Barcelona played host to their crosstown rivals Espanyol in a thrilling derby match in the Spanish league on Sunday. The excitement was all in Barcelona’s favor as the Catalan giants dominated the game with an emphatic 4-0 victory over the neighbor at Camp Nou. The thrashing began with Xavi’s opening goal after just 10 minutes. Pedro soon netted a double before Lionel Messi converted a penalty after Cesc Fabregas was brought down in the area. This success brings Barcelona 17th win of the season and moves the club 12 points clear at the top of the table. Their star, Argentina forward Leo Messi has finished 2012 with an astonishing 91 goals in all competitions and is now poised to become the first player to win four successive FIFA Ballon d'Or awards, sealing his status as the greatest player of his generation. It will crown another landmark year for the 25-year-old footballer if he can win over club teammate Andres Iniesta and rival Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid.
Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona celebrates after scoring his team's fourth goal during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and RCD Espanyol at Camp Nou on January 6, 2013 in Barcelona, Spain.
Lionel Messi is the overwhelming favourite to see off the challenge of Barcelona teammate Andres Iniesta and great Real Madrid rival Cristiano Ronaldo for FIFA Ballon d'Or award in Kongresshaus, Zurich on on January 7, 2013.
The Argentine, who is the top scorer in La Liga this season with 25 goals, has also broken German great Gerd Mueller's 40-year record for the most goals in a calendar year.
A fourth straight title would lift the Camp Nou star above FIFA World Player of the Year three-time winners Zinedine Zidane and Ronaldo of Brazil.
See more pictures: