Classy Barcelona coach Valverde: Alaves can feel unlucky; Coutinho will improve

Lionel Messi How Ernesto Valverde has changed Barcelona

Lionel Messi How Ernesto Valverde has changed Barcelona

His free-kick wasn't the best he has scored, and owed to the goalkeeper Pacheo whose hand on the ball was weak, but the Argentina global rescued his side when the goal looked like it wasn't going to come.

But Messi would have the final say as he finally beat Pacheco with a free-kick from 20 yards out that the keeper could only get a weak glove to, sealing the three points for the league leaders six minutes from time. As a result of this Alaves threatened so often on the counter-attack and it was no surprise that the visitors scored a goal in the 23rd minute of the game.

The Catalan giants dominated the opening exchanges of the encounter but they failed to test Ferando Pachecho.

The equaliser eventually arrived in the 72nd minute when Andres Iniesta's cross found Luis Suarez, who volleyed home from a tight angle.

Luis Suarez could face action after appearing to deliberately kick an opponent in the stomach. Lionel Messi is one of the best in the world at set-pieces and took the free kick, curling a flawless shot into the corner to put Barça in the clear for the win.

In the post-match conference, Valverde said: "The truth is that we have good players who play in the interior role, but Iniesta is a master at that".

Carlos Tevez compares Messi to Ronaldo
Classy Barcelona coach Valverde: Alaves can feel unlucky; Coutinho will improve

He told a press conference: "I don't think our lead in the league is sufficient or allows us to look at other things".

Messi had the chance to double his tally in the final moments after breaking into the Alaves box, but Pacheco made another smart save as just one goal separated the two teams on the night.

Ernesto Valverde's men remain 11 points clear at the summit and their streak of 21 games unbeaten represents Barcelona's best run from the start of a LaLiga season.

"They have a lot of weapons and can beat you in very different ways, " he added. "There are always controversies - sometimes they hurt you and sometimes they help you".

Nelson Semedo and Lucas Digne come in for Aleix Vidal and Jordi Alba at full back, while Paulinho deputises for Sergio Busquets and Coutinho takes the place of Sergi Roberto.

Barca top the standings with 57 points, 11 above nearest challengers Atletico and 19 ahead of champions Real Madrid, who roared back from their miserable start to 2018 with an impressive 4-1 win at third-placed Valencia on Saturday.

Schools' mixed reports in new-look league tables
He added: "You have got to be a little bit careful on how you interpret the figures and the conclusions people draw from them". The borough was 98th in the country out of 152 local authorities, with an average progress 8 score of -0.12.

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