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Messi fit to resume bid for goal record

Barcelona forward Lionel Messi returned to training on Saturday following an injury which threatened to wreck his record bid.

Story highlights

  • Lionel Messi named in Barcelona squad for Sunday's La Liga trip to Real Betis
  • Argentine has recovered quickly from injury that threatened his world record bid
  • Messi is one goals short of Gerd Muller's record of 85 in a calendar year
  • Real Madrid come from behind to close gap on second-placed Atletico

Lionel Messi's bid to break Gerd Muller's record for goals in a calendar year is back on after the Argentina star was named in Barcelona's squad to travel to Real Betis on Sunday.

Messi, who is one short of the German's 1972 milestone mark of 85, has made a quick recovery from the injury he suffered on Wednesday that had football fans around the world so worried.

"He completed training on Saturday without any kind of trouble," coach Tito Vilanova said on Barca's website.

"There are still a lot of hours until kickoff and we'll all evaluate the situation together and decide whether he'll play the full 90 minutes or just part of the match.

"The important thing is that he's feeling okay ... But he could easily wake up in the morning and tell us he's feeling pain again."

Mapping Messi's annus mirabilis

Messi injured his knee after coming on as a substitute in the 0-0 Champions League draw with Benfica, prompting fears that he would miss Barcelona's last four games of 2012.

"When I first felt the knock, the pain made me imagine I'd be out for many months," he said.

However, he announced the following day that the injury was not serious -- and now it appears he is fit to face fifth-placed Betis.

"If he travels it's because he's ready to play. If there was the slightest risk, he wouldn't be going," Vilanova said.

"I think Messi was comforted when he found out that it's not a serious injury. If he wants to be in the squad because he's not feeling any trouble, then so much the better for us.

"But he doesn't need to make this kind of effort to show how much he loves this sport."

Barcelona went into the weekend six points clear of Atletico Madrid, who host Deportivo La Coruna earlier on Sunday.

Champions Real Madrid closed to within two points of Atletico after coming from behind to beat seventh-placed Valladolid on Saturday.

Angolan striker Manucho twice put the home side ahead, but Germany midfielder Mesut Osil scored his second goal of the match with a superb 72nd-minute free-kick that went in off the underside of the crossbar to clinch a vital win for Real.

Jose Mourinho brought on Angel Di Maria and Luka Modric in the second half to boost his attacking options, then was able to substitute opening goalscorer Karim Benzema late in the match with Real ahead.

Malaga, like Real and Barca through to the last 16 of the Champions League, moved up to fourth on goal difference after a 4-0 win at home to Granada.

Joaquin and Javier Saviola scored in the first half, while Ignacio Camacho and Roque Santa Cruz netted late in the second to leave Granada third from bottom.

In Italy, veteran striker Francesco Totti scored twice as Roma moved up to fourth place in Serie A with a 3-2 win at home to Fiorentina.

Fiorentina could have moved above third-placed Inter Milan, but went 3-1 down as Totti netted his second in first-half injury time.

Moroccan striker Mounir El Hamdaoui reduced the deficit immediately after the interval but Totti set up Argentina-born Italy international Pablo Osvaldo for his eighth goal this season to put the capital side above the visitors on goal difference.

Atalanta moved up to seventh with a 2-1 win over mid-table Parma, as veteran Argentine striker German Denis netted the opener for his sixth goal in Serie A this campaign.

Defender Federico Peluso made it 2-0 before Brazilian Amauri reduced the deficit just before halftime.

Valencia beat Osasuna 1-0 in Ernesto Valverde's first game as coach, moving up to 10th in the table thanks to a 55th-minute goal from Spain striker Roberto Soldado.

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