Lionel Messi misses cancelled out by rousing Luis Suarez, Paulinho outings

Lionel Messi misses cancelled out by rousing Luis Suarez, Paulinho outings
From ESPN - December 17, 2017

Barcelona got in the mood for next week's Clasico by thumping Deportivo La Coruna 4-0 with doubles from both Paulinho and Luis Suarez.

Lionel Messi had a hapless night in front of goal, hitting the woodwork three times and seeing his penalty saved by his old Barca B teammate Ruben Martinez, as well as missing the target from a good position in either half, but still played a key role in the victory.


Barca had looked underwhelming in their previous three games but this was a complete performance from the Liga leaders which will lift their confidence for the crunch visit to the Santiago Bernabeu. Suarez is hitting form just at the right time and has now scored three times in his past four games, while Paulinho continued to prove the doubters wrong.


Paco Alcacer's injury was cruel on the former Valencia striker as he was just starting to settle into the team in his second campaign. The muscle problem rules him out for three weeks and deprives Ernesto Valverde of another attacking option for the Clasico, with Ousmane Dembele still injured.

Manager rating out of 10

8 -- Valverde made the right call in refusing to risk Sergio Busquets getting a booking that would rule him out of the game in Madrid, and playing Sergi Roberto over Nelson Semedo also paid off. Bringing on Aleix Vidal for the injured Alcacer also worked well, and there was no drop off in the team's performance after he removed Andres Iniesta for Andre Gomes.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Marc-Andre ter Stegen, 6 -- Enjoyed an unusually quiet 90 minutes, a welcome break from having to repeatedly put out fires in the past few league games.

DF Sergi Roberto, 7 -- Got forward a lot and set up Suarez's second goal. Looks a sure starter in the Clasico ahead of Aleix Vidal and Nelson Semedo.

DF Gerard Pique, 6 -- Gave a solid performance, starting plenty of attacks as he met little resistance from Deportivo's feeble attack.

DF Thomas Vermaelen, 6 -- Had little to deal with and mostly looked assured although showed indecision on a couple of occasions, lapses he will need to eradicate next week at the Bernabeu.


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