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Messi, Coutinho see Barcelona past Alaves





Barcelona are off the mark in their opening match of their LaLiga campaign with a comfortable 3-0 win over Alaves. The home side were frustrated in the first half by Abelardo’s men, who held their discipline at the back. However, once Lionel Messi opened the scoring with a clever free-kick, the result was a formality. Messi scored Barca’s 6,000th LaLiga goal, nine-and-a-half years removed from scoring their 5,000th. Philippe Coutinho opened his account for the term before the Argentine notched his second of the game to secure the three points.
Valverde gave us a few surprises with his starting line-up. Philippe Coutinho was left on the bench with Sergi Roberto starting in midfield. Ousmane Dembele also got the nod from the start.

Barcelona took a little bit of time to get going in the first half but started to carve out chances as half-time approached.

The closest they came was a Messi free-kick which looked destined for the top corner, until it crashed off the crossbar and rebounded to safety.

Dembele also had a good chance after he was played in, but he rushed his shot and hit it straight at goalkeeper Fernando Pacheco.

SECOND HALF

Valverde made a change at the break as he sought some extra inspiration in attack. Off went Nelson Semedo, with Roberto reverting to right-back ,and on came Coutinho.

Yet Barcelona still looked a little short in attack, until they won another free-kick on the edge of the box. This time Messi made no mistake, rolling the ball under the wall and past goalkeeper Pacheco.

A couple of minutes later he almost doubled Barcelona’s lead with a brilliant shot that clipped the outside of the post. Suarez also went close but his shot was saved by Pacheco at his near post.

Coutinho was the man to make the game safe inside the last 10 minutes. Arthur found him on the edge of the box, and he dribbled inside, beat a couple of players before lashing home.

The only thing was Messi wasn’t quite finished. He grabbed his second of the match in stoppage time, taking a pass from Luis Suarez on his chest, before turning and firing low into the bottom corner.

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