Messi, Suarez, Paulinho on target in routine Barca win

Lionel Messi’s 365th La Liga goal came inside 12 minutes with Luis Suarez adding the second before half time

Lionel Messi’s 365th La Liga goal came inside 12 minutes with Luis Suarez adding the second before half time

He is a player who scores goals and creates goals. Players like Leo Messi, Luis Suarez, (Andres) Iniesta, (Gerard) Pique, (Sergio) Busquets. They seem armed to battle for few titles this year.

Not that Barcelona needs it in the league.

Coutinho's predecessor as Barca's record signing, Ousmane Dembele, made his first start since September after recovering from a torn hamstring in another positive development for Valverde.

"In these three months I have been able to learn Barcelona's philosophy, now I am eager to help the team", Dembele said.

Messi was back in the starting line-up after missing the King's Cup draw with Celta Vigo on Thursday and marked his 400th game in La Liga by opening the scoring in the 12th minute, volleying Jordi Alba's cushioned header into the net.

In the 38 minute Barcelona did find their second goal when Luis Suarez latched onto an inch-perfect cross from Sergi Roberto just outside the box and arrowed the ball into the top left corner, 2-0.

Messi is likely to see out his remaining contract with the club and keep destructing defences like he has been doing ever since donning the Barcelona jersey.

Suarez wasted a couple of chances to make Barca's victory more comfortable and forward Jose Arnaiz was handed a league debut in the last five minutes.

Celta's Iago Aspas went close to scoring twice, hitting the post early and having a penalty kick saved by Keylor Navas after the goalkeeper had fouled him in the 71st.

The three points cancelled out second-placed Atletico Madrid's win over Getafe on Saturday to restore a nine-point advantage. "Sometimes we play 90 minutes well, but it is true that recently we don't do it regularly". He had done so during negotiations for his most recent renewal.

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