Sport

Barcelona coach Valverde happy to be above Real Madrid after Espanyol romp

Barcelona coach Valverde happy to be above Real Madrid after Espanyol romp

With Barcelona boosted by the return of hitman Luis Suarez, and with Messi in form as well - it's nearly impossible to look past a Barca win.

Piatti, though, could only clip an attempted lob past the far post with the goal wide open.

Pau Lopez made a fine save to deny Rakitic after he raced clear before Barcelona did go 2-0 ahead in the 35th minute, with another fortuitous goal.

Moments after fellow substitute Paulinho came a whisker away from poking in a diagonal ball for 4-0, Didac Vila's rocket was tipped over by Ter Stegen.

DF Jordi Alba, 8 - Rejuvenated under Valverde and clearly enjoying his football.

The duo nearly combined again moments later, this time in reverse order, as Messi became provider in a similar fashion by sliding Rakitic in on goal, but the strong left hand of Pau Lopez was enough to palm the effort away to safety.

MF Sergio Busquets, 7 - Another good performance after two fine displays for Spain during the global break.




A low cross was then expertly controlled by Baptistao in the box again, but his half-volley took a deflection off Samuel Umtiti in the nick of time.

Having missed Croatia's World Cup qualifier against Turkey in midweek, Ivan Rakitic will not start against Espanyol.

Messi netted twice before the break and later completed his hat-trick, allowing manager Ernesto Valverde to introduce Dembele when the game was already won, and the young French winger wasted no time in making his mark by providing a ideal assist for Luis Suarez to complete the scoring. Having returned from an worldwide break, the players will be keen to continue their winning start and assert their dominance on this La Liga campaign.

Messi has scored two or more goals in 10 of his last 15 La-Liga games - he didn't score in the other five.

Suarez was making his league debut this season after missing the first two matches with a leg injury.

Barca managed to rbag a fouth goal in the 87th minute as Gerard Pique found the back of the net with a thumping header.


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