‘Great player’ Coutinho must fight for Barca spot, says Valverde

‘Great player’ Coutinho must fight for Barca spot, says Valverde

‘Great player’ Coutinho must fight for Barca spot, says Valverde

Ernesto Valverde hailed the "unbelievable" Lionel Messi after the Barcelona star chalked up yet another landmark in Sunday's defeat of Eibar.

Messi bagged Barcelona's second goal shortly after half-time to hit the 400 mark in only his 435th league match, giving him a remarkable scoring ratio of 0.91. That's Barcelona's second goal of the night, and it's Messi's 400th La Liga goal of his career.

Barca were not at their best but were too strong for Eibar and their victory maintained a five-point lead at the top of the table. However, regulars like Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Gerard Pique, and Jordi Alba took their break ahead of the busy January schedule.

Ivan Rakitic in no way gave a bad performance, however he was the poorest among Barca's players. He has 17 in the league already this season and is on course to finish top scorer for a sixth time. "Once we scored, the game opened up for us" said Suarez.

Messi's moment came in the 53rd minute and it was Suarez who started it, stealing back possession after a heavy touch from Anaitz Arbilla.

The Brazilian, who left the La Liga club under a cloud, has since drifted, playing understudy to young French sensation Kylian Mbappe, who continues to grab the headlines in Paris.

Griezmann scored his team-leading ninth league goal of the season when he fired a spot kick over Levante goalkeeper Oier Olazabal in the 57th minute following a handball by defender Nikola Vukcevic. Atletico are second on 38, while Sevilla are third on 33 after losing 2-0 to Athletic Bilbao.

Bilbao forward Inaki Williams scored both goals for the hosts to help lift them out of the relegation zone.

Since moving to France, though, he has been regularly linked with a return to Spain, previously with Real Madrid but more recently with Barcelona. They will meet again on Wednesday in Seville in the return leg of their round-of-16 game.

Related news