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Messi sets up 'El Clasico' clash

updated 6:09 PM EST, Thu January 24, 2013
Leo Messi scored his 40th goal of the season as Barcelona defeated Malaga 4-2 in the Copa del Rey.
Leo Messi scored his 40th goal of the season as Barcelona defeated Malaga 4-2 in the Copa del Rey.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Barcelona will play Real Madrid in the semifinal of the Copa del Rey
  • Barca defeated Malaga 4-2 on the night to prevail 6-4 on aggregate
  • Leo Messi scores 40th goal of the season to cap victory
  • Atletico Madrid progress to meet Sevilla in last four

(CNN) -- Barcelona will meet arch-rival Real Madrid in the semifinal of the Copa del Rey after Leo Messi fired the Catalans past Malaga Thursday.

The Argentina international scored his 40th goal of the season as Barca claimed a 4-2 win to prevail 6-4 on aggregate and set up two more 'El Clasico' games.

It will give Barcelona, which is top of La Liga, the opportunity to avenge its defeat by Jose Mourinho's men in the 2010 final.

Messi and Ronaldo ensure honors shared in 222nd El Clasico

With Real trailing Barca by 15 points in the league, Mourinho will be desperate to regain the trophy which Pep Guardiola lifted in his final game in charge at the Camp Nou last season.

Real Madrid ($650.5 million) and Barcelona ($613 million) lead the way at the top of the chart by some considerable distance over English champion Manchester United ($502.4) . The top six places remain unchanged from last year. Real Madrid ($650.5 million) and Barcelona ($613 million) lead the way at the top of the chart by some considerable distance over English champion Manchester United ($502.4) . The top six places remain unchanged from last year.
Leading the way
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Lionel Messi celebrates after matching Gerd Muller's record of 85 goals in a calendar year, netting in the 16th minute of Barcelona's match against Real Betis in December 2012. Just nine minutes later the Argentina star passed the German's 1972 milestone. Lionel Messi celebrates after matching Gerd Muller's record of 85 goals in a calendar year, netting in the 16th minute of Barcelona's match against Real Betis in December 2012. Just nine minutes later the Argentina star passed the German's 1972 milestone.
Messi beats Muller
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Lionel Messi\'s record year Lionel Messi's record year

But if the current Spanish champions are to triumph, they will have to stop Messi and his accomplices, who continue to prosper despite the absence of coach Tito Vilanova.

Vilanova, who is undergoing treatment for cancer, left deputy Jordi Roura in charge, but it made little difference as Barca continued its hot streak.

The statistics are frightening. Barcelona have now scored 100 goals in its 34 goals this season.

It is the fourth year in succession that Messi has reached the 40-goal mark, while his late header also made it 23 goals in his past 15 starts.

With the tie level at 2-2 going into the second leg, Barcelona made the perfect start when Pedro headed home after just eight minutes.

Messi leads Barcelona to new record

But Malaga fought back and Joaquin equalized four minutes later with a neat finish following wonderful interplay.

Although far from its fluent best, Barcelona picked up in the second half and Gerard Pique netted four minutes after the interval only for Roque Santa Cruz to pull Malaga level once again.

But Barca continued to look threatening and a wonderful flowing move ended with Cesc Fabregas threading the ball through for Andres Iniesta to stroke home.

There was still time for Messi's customary goal, running through the middle to head home Dani Alves' cross from close-range and kill off any hopes of a Malaga comeback.

Daniel Craig and Cristiano Ronaldo have both been outspoken in their desire to reclaim a right to privacy. Both men have become frustrated with their treatment in public. Daniel Craig and Cristiano Ronaldo have both been outspoken in their desire to reclaim a right to privacy. Both men have become frustrated with their treatment in public.
007 and CR7
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Lionel Messi, center, celebrates with Barcelona teammates Cesc Fabregas, left, and Xavi Hernandez after matching Pele's 75 goals in a calendar year. Lionel Messi, center, celebrates with Barcelona teammates Cesc Fabregas, left, and Xavi Hernandez after matching Pele's 75 goals in a calendar year.
Messi magic
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More than a game: Austerity gives El Clasico new twist

In the night's other game, Atletico Madrid booked its place in the last four with a 1-1 draw at Real Betis to progress 3-1 on aggregate.

Diego Costa put Atletico ahead on the stroke of halftime with Jorge Molina scoring from the penalty spot late on.

Atletico will now face Sevilla in the semifinal.

Bilbao forward Llorente opens talks with Juventus

Meanwhile, Italian champion Juventus confirmed the signing of Spain forward Fernando Llorente.

The 27-year-old, who will arrive in Turin on July 1 when his current deal with Athletic Bilbao expires, has signed a four-year contract.

A statement from the club said: "Juventus can confirm that Spanish international striker Fernando Llorente will join the club on 1 July 2013.

"The 27-year-old has agreed terms on a four-year deal and will move to Turin when his Athletic Bilbao contract expires at the end of the current season."

Elsewhere, AC Milan has signed defender Cristian Zaccardo from Parma in a deal which has seen Djamel Mesbah go the other way.

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