Barcelona next faces Cordoba in Copa del Rey

HAROLD HECKLE Associated Press Published:

MADRID (AP) -- Lionel Messi has until Wednesday to bask in the glory of a major goal-scoring record before Barcelona takes on second-tier club Cordoba in the Copa del Rey.

Messi broke German great Gerd Mueller's 40-year-old record for most goals in a calendar year by slotting in his 85th and 86th goals during a 2-1 win at Real Betis on Sunday in the Spanish league.

Real Madrid, which won 3-2 win at promoted Valladolid, faces a tough match at Celta Vigo, while Atletico Madrid hosts cross-town rival Getafe.

Radamel Falcao was unstoppable Sunday with five goals as Atletico routed Deportivo La Coruna 6-0.

He earned and converted a penalty, used his head to devastating effect and showed great accuracy by slotting in goals close to the post.

"I had never scored as many goals before," Falcao said. "I have a great team that is supporting me and helping me develop as a player."

Falcao has scored 16 goals in the league and trails only Messi, who has 23. Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo is third with 13.

Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova will likely keep a close eye on how Falcao performs against Getafe because his team hosts Atletico at the Camp Nou on Sunday without midfielder Cesc Fabregas.

Fabregas had to be substituted in the ninth minute against Betis after tearing a muscle in his left thigh, the club said.

Barcelona captain Carles Puyol also had to be substituted for Javier Mascherano at halftime after struggling with pain in his right leg and may not be recovered in time to play Cordoba.

Madrid coach Jose Mourinho has been airing long-standing complaints that referees treat his team harshly, after an apparently legal goal by Sergio Ramos against Valladolid was judged to be offside.

But Ramos was more concerned about the team's weakness at the back, conceding two set-piece goals from corner kicks.

"No question we have to improve our defense on set-pieces," Ramos said.

With 11 points to catch up in the league, Madrid is placing greater emphasis on Champions League and Copa del Rey, matches where its chances are more even.