Valverde talks Messi, Paulinho and Luis Suarez after Barcelona beat Eibar

The coach has given his thoughts after the win

Ernesto Valverde was full of praise for his side after they maintained their perfect start to the season with a 6-1 thrashing of Eibar at Camp Nou on Tuesday.

Lionel Messi was, once again, the star of the show hitting four goals with Paulinho and Denis Suarez also on target.

So what did Valverde made of it all? Here’s a look at what he said in his post-match press conference (quotes via ESPN).

Valvede on Messi

“I don’t know what to say about Messi,” he said.

“He is one of the most intelligent players I’ve seen on a football pitch. He’s extraordinary. Today we played in a different way, without Luis [Suarez], but Messi is the same wherever you put him.

Barcelona v Eibar - La Liga
Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

“From a play where it looks like nothing’s going to happen, he can create something good for us… and bad for the opposition.

“That he scores four goals isn’t news anymore. He’s done this time and again, on many nights and in many games. He repeats it, he repeats it and he repeats it. He loves football, he enjoys it and he never tires of winning.”

Valverde on Paulinho

“[Paulinho] adds something different, something we didn’t have in the squad with the other players,” Valverde said.

“He makes those runs into the area, he’s [a threat] from set plays. At the beginning, he was a little lost, but he’s been getting up to speed. Other players have more positional play; he’s strength, breaking the lines, set plays. The goal[s] have helped him settle.”

Barcelona v Eibar - La Liga
Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Valverde on Luis Suarez

“I think this break will do him well,” he explained.

“He’s fine, but we thought a rest would be good. We hope he can help us moving forward. Today we made some changes to give some players a rest and others minutes and it came off.”

Next up is a trip to Girona and once again it will be interesting to see who Valverde selects.

Paulinho and Denis Suarez both now have two goals in two games and are pushing to retain their places, while Luis Suarez could return having had a rest.

Who do you think should start against Girona? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Paulinho, Denis Suarez & Nelson Semedo deliver to give Barcelona options

The squad may not be as thin as first thought

After a chaotic summer that left Barcelona feeling relatively low going into the new campaign, it’s fair to stay the club have so far surpassed expectations.

Most notably Barcelona’s new additions have been in blistering form and have helped propel the team to an amazing start. Since the two losses to Real Madrid in the Supercopa de Espana, Barcelona have won six matches in a row, scoring 20 goals and conceding only three.

While there are several contributing factors for this start, none more important than Lionel Messi, the players surrounding the Argentine must be given credit as well.

The most controversial signing of the summer was of course Paulinho. But in addition to scoring the winner against Getafe, Paulinho started the game against Eibar yesterday and posted some impressive statistics – as shown by Squawka:

Paulinho’s towering header was reminiscent of a particular Carlos Puyol header and showcased something missing from the squad in previous seasons, a strong, physical presence.

In addition to his goal, Paulinho played several key passes freeing up players, and set up one of Messi’s goals. His little dummy in the build-up to Denis Suarez’s goal was also pretty special.

While two games against weaker competition such as Getafe and Eibar cannot be reason for too much excitement, if Paulinho continues this form, he will gain the trust of the fans, the manager, and will continue to help the team.

Nelson Semedo has also proven a stunning buy. Similar to Paulinho’s physical comparison with Carles Puyol, Semedo has displayed qualities similar to Dani Alves.

Once again the right-back position again has a marauding player capable of overlaps, key passes, and the necessary quality to make a true difference in games.

While somewhat overlooked, Semedo’s price tag in this delirious market may come to seem like the steal of the transfer window in a couple of years, similar to Ivan Rakitic’s from a couple of seasons ago.

And then there’s Suarez…the first name that comes to mind is Luis, but against Eibar, Denis made a wonderful case for additional minutes in the games to come. Of course he’s not a new signing but this is surely a crucial season for him if he is to have a future at the club.

While Luis Suarez has so far looked lost on the wings in the first few games, Denis opens up several avenues for this team.

Barcelona v Eibar - La Liga
Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

His passing so far has been superior to that of Luis, along with his movement on the wing. With two goals in two games, he seems to plug in naturally there, even though you suspect it’s not his favourite position.

And last, but certainly not least, we have Gerard Deulofeu. Picking up where Dembele left off, Deulofeu produced creativity and skill on the right wing. Yes he was dispossessed several times and yes he sometimes lacked the quality to deliver the final ball, but Deulofeu’s invention should not be underscored.

Hopefully, with more time and confidence, that creativity will be paired with the necessary skill, and Deulofeu can develop into the player we all once thought he could be.

Ultimately, while pundits, fans, and experts all considered Barcelona’s squad depleted and the transfer window a disaster, this group of players is so far proving everyone wrong.

If players on the fringe of the starting XI such as Denis and Paulinho can continue producing, Valverde will have a big selection headache, but one he probably won’t mind having at all.

In order for the team to compete for all trophies, competition for starting spots is a must; and so far in this young season… that competition seems to be prevalent throughout the entire squad. Visca Barca.

Barcelona 6-1 Eibar, 2017 La Liga: Match Review

Barcelona extended their perfect run to start the season, blowing past Eibar by 6 goals to 1, on the backs of yet another monster showing from Lionel Messi who finished the game with four goals. Paulinho and Denis Suarez also scored for Barcelona, while each also picking up an assist, and Sergi Enrich found the back of the net for the visiting side.

Ernesto Valverde rotated heavily in this match, leaving several key players on the bench, Luis Suarez for example, while some, like Samuel Umtiti, didn’t even make the match squad. Lucas Digne started at left-back, while Paulinho made his first Barcelona start in midfield. Denis Suarez and Gerard Deulofeu stared on the wings.

While Barcelona started the match, as expected, dominating possession, it were the visitors who threated first. Sergi Enrich was played behind the Barcelona defense for a one-on-one with Marc-Andre ter Stegen, but the young German won the duel.

Barcelona struggled in the early going as Eibar’s positioning and defense very effectively shut down the Catalans. There was very little room for Messi and company to operate, leading to numerous misplaced passes and turnovers. But even though they forced several turnovers, Eibar couldn’t really threaten on the counter attack. The visitors were often found buzzing around ter Stegen’s area, but apart from the aforementioned chance by Enrich, ter Stegen didn’t have to get involved much.

Regardless of their early struggles, Barcelona still managed to take the lead in the 20th minute. The ball was played to Nelson Semedo inside the Eibar penalty area. The Portuguese defender went down after a body check by Álex Gálvez and referee Alejandro José Hernández Hernández was quick to point to the spot. Lionel Messi took responsibility and, unlike on his last attempt, found the back of the net for the sixth time this season. Goalkeeper Marko Dmitrović guessed right, but Messi’s shot went over his hand and into the back of the net for the lead.

Barcelona looked to quickly double their lead as just over a minute later Deulofeu was played behind the line and was going alone on Dmitrović, but the play was whistled dead for offside. The replays were inconclusive, though the young winger appeared to be level with Eibar’s last defender. In the 26th minute Messi looked to double up, but this time he was denied by the Serbian goalkeeper. Messi was aiming for the top corner, but Dmitrović did well to prevent to goal.

The Catalans continued to attack in search of a bigger lead, however, Eibar continued to hold Barcelona’s attacks to the perimeter, even though the Basque side didn’t come to the Camp Nou to park a bus. Manager José Luis Mendilibar has often come to play to Barcelona instead of defending with eleven, but whether that is a prudent tactic is up for debate, as his teams conceded 32 goals in seven games in Barcelona.

And the 37th minute added another goal to that statistic. Takashi Inui lost the ball in transition, leading to a quick Barcelona counterattack. Deulofeu played the ball to Messi on the edge of the area, but his low shot was excellently saved by Dmitrović. But from the ensuing corner kick Barcelona doubled the lead. Denis swung the ball into the area where Paulinho rose the highest and powered the ball into the net.

The last scoring opportunity of the opening 45 minutes would, however, go to Eibar, who had a good look on goal from a free kick from roughly 25 yards out, but Anaitz Arbilla’s shot was blocked. There was no time for the ensuing corner kick as the referee immediately whistled for halftime.

Both teams started the second half looking to attack, but with Barcelona’s defense looking strong from left to right, Barcelona often found space going forward on the counter. Sadly, both good looking attacks launched in the opening five minutes were thwarted due to poor decision making from Deulofeu. Overall, it wasn’t a very good night for the winger, who left much to be desired in attack, but made numerous contributions on defense.

But even though the Catalans missed some early chances, they would not be denied again in the 53rd minute. Iniesta started the play with a long pass to Messi, with a massive assist to Paulinho who appeared to be the initial recipient, but as two defenders moved in on the Brazilian, he let the ball past him to spring Messi on the counter. Messi fired another low shot from an excellent spot, but again he was denied by Dmitrović. The rebound, however, fell right to the waiting Denis, who powered the ball in to increase the lead.

Both teams were in full attack mode by now as four goals would be scored in less than ten minutes. The first one was the aforementioned one by Denis. The second came on the other end of the pitch after a perfect cross from Junca to Enrich who scored with a lovely redirection after some lax defending from Gerard Pique.

Two minutes later, in the 59th minute, Messi finally bested Dmitrović from the edge of the area with a low shot. Sergio Busquets found Messi in just enough space to make a couple steps and fire on goal to restore the three-goal lead with a shot just mere inches inside the post.

In the 62nd minute, Messi completed the hat-trick. The attack, however, started inside the Barcelona area, where ter Stegen made an excellent save on Inui. From the save, Barcelona immediately went on the counter that after a few passes saw Paulinho play Messi into a great position. Surrounded by three defenders, Messi somehow got a shot off that went through the legs of Dmitrović and into the net.

In quick succession Valverde then made two substitution, both with the intention of resting key figures. First, Sergi Roberto replaced Iniesta, then moments later, Busquets made way for Ivan Rakitić. Even though the game was all but decided, Barcelona continued to play attacking football and continued to press on the rare occasion when Eibar took possession of the ball. An excellent example of that came in the 71st minute when Digne stopped a counter attack and immediately went forward to receive a pass from Pique to create an excellent scoring chance, though the Frenchman was ultimately denied by Dmitrović

Even in the final ten minutes, Barcelona players were still sprinting all over the pitch to put pressure on Eibar players going forward. There was less urgency in attack, but such energy from Barcelona as a team was rarely seen in recent seasons. Eibar looked for one more consolidation goal, but despite good effort, and a terrible turnover from Pique, the closest Eibar came was when Rubén Peña hit the post in the 86th minute. And when Charles hit the crossbar in the dying moments of the game…

But even though Barcelona rarely attacked in the final ten minutes of the game, the Catalans would add one more to their total, again courtesy of Messi. The Argentine himself started the key move in the attack, playing a great pass to the right side to Aleix Vidal, who joined play in the 75th minute in place of Deulofeu. Vidal wasted no time and quickly sent a perfect back-pass to Messi who picked up his fourth of the night with and easy finish.

In all, it was a clinical performance from Barcelona in a game in which both sides had a similar number of shots (11-13 actually in favor of Eibar), but Barcelona scored five goals more. The Catalans’ grueling schedule continues on Saturday when they travel to fellow Catalans – Girona.

WATCH: Leo Messi scores his 300th goal at Camp Nou

His fourth of the day is a big one.

Lionel Messi went H.A.M. on Eibar today en route to a blowout 6-1 win. The Argentinian superstar scored four goals on the night, one of which set a little bit of personal history for Messi. It marks the 300th time in his career that he’s scored a goal at the historic Camp Nou.

His four goals on the day give him nine goals in just five league matches so far this season. The Pichichi looks well within reach this season.

Barcelona vs. Eibar, 2017 La Liga: Final Score 6-1, Barça stay perfect with big home win

Job done at home, another three points!

Barcelona continued their perfect start to the La Liga season with a dominant 6-1 win at Camp Nou against Eibar. The Blaugrana did their job well and avoided any trouble, with Lionel Messi and Nélson Semedo once again the standout performers on the night. Barça have now won five straight league matches to begin the campaign, which could have a huge impact on the title race later.

FIRST HALF

Eibar had a chance just three minutes in when Sergi Enrich was put through on goal but shot straight at Marc-André ter Stegen, and that was about the only thing the visitors did to endanger the Blaugrana. Eibar tried to press high up the pitch to force mistakes close to Ter Stegen’s goal, but the Blaugrana were very good with their buildup to get out of the press.

For the rest of the half, Barça were in complete control of possession and territory, but they weren’t ruthless enough to create a great number of chances, though Gerard Deulofeu and Nélson Semedo were tormenting Eibar on the right side and giving Lionel Messi a few chances to test the Eibar goalkeeper.

Soon enough, the Catalan giants got their goals through that side of the pitch. First, Semedo won a penalty inside the box thanks to his insane pace, and Messi calmly scored the spot kick. A few minutes later, another very good combination between Semedo, Deulofeu and Messi won Barça a corner, and Paulinho scored his second goal in two games with a bullet header.

At halftime, Barça had a comfortable lead and looked set for another easy win. They just needed to finish the job in the second half.

SECOND HALF

Barça came out of the interval looking to attack, get a third goal early and not give Eibar any hopes, and the plan worked. A dummy from Paulinho set Messi free on the counter, and after Leo’s shot was saved by Dmitrovic the ball fell to Denis Suarez, who calmly finished past the goalie and made it 3-0 to the Blaugrana.

With the win wrapped up and 35 minutes still to play in the second half, Barça naturally dropped their intensity and Eibar took advantage, with Sergi Enrich scoring a very nice goal to keep the game interesting. It didn’t take long for Barça to make sure the game would not be interesting, though, with Messi scoring the second of the game just two minutes after Enrich’s goal.

Messi was hungry for goals and completed his hat-trick after an assist from Paulinho before adding a fourth thanks to an assist from substitute Aleix Vidal. It’s now five wins in a row for the La Liga leaders and Barça look really, really, really good.


Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Semedo, Piqué, Mascherano, Digne; Paulinho, Busquets (Rakitic), Iniesta (Roberto); Deulofeu (Vidal), Messi, Denis

Goals: Messi (20’, 59’, 62’, 87’), Paulinho (38’), Denis (53’)

Eibar: Dmitrovic; Arbilla, Oliveira, Gálvez, Juncà; Escalante, Dani García (Rivera), Jordán; Capa (Peña), Enrich (Charles), Inui

Goal: Sergi Enrich (57’)

WATCH: Barcelona players send message to Ousmane Dembele ahead of Eibar clash

The France international has not been forgotten

Barcelona players showed their support for Ousmane Dembele ahead of Tuesday’s Liga clash with Eibar at Camp Nou.

The France international underwent successful surgery today but will be out for three and a half months, and is unlikely to play again this year.

However, if he was watching from home, he will surely have been cheered to see his team-mates run out onto the pitch sporting T-shirts with the words ‘Courage Dembele’.

Get well soon Ousmane!

Two Wizards Get Their Chance: Gerard Deulofeu and Denis Suarez To Start vs. Eibar

Are the Barcelona boys ready for a breakthrough?

With Luis Suarez in irregular form and Ousmane Dembele injured, two young players will be counted on even more than before: Denis Suarez and Gerard Deulofeu. Both start tonight alongside Lionel Messi upfront for FC Barcelona as they take on Eibar.

Both have shown encouraging signs recently and they would like to extend that as Barça will count on them to play more minutes than ever before. Both have come up through Barcelona B and various spells at other clubs before getting the chance they have this season. They even spent time together at Sevilla. Both have shown flashes of great potential but both have yet to firmly establish themselves as true heavyweights.

The “D&D” duo needs to support Messi, who has taken the bulk of scoring himself so far this season. Messi is the only player with more than one goal to his name, and the only player to register at least one goal and at least one assist (Sergi Roberto is the other.) Denis has scored a goal while Deulofeu has registered an assist so far in the league.

Denis has logged only 72 minutes in La Liga across 3 substitute appearances, but his latest showing was by far his most encouraging. He scored a vital goal and generally played very well against Getafe.

Deulofeu has played all 4 league games and registered 272 minutes, more than the likes of Gerard Pique, Andres Iniesta, and Luis Suarez. He’s slowly gaining in confidence and with Dembele’s injury, he’s likely to play a lot on the right.

These two young wizards are just 23, meaning that it’s right about the time they should be making the jump to the next level. Let’s see if they can continue to improve.

Barcelona vs. Eibar, 2017 La Liga: CONFIRMED Lineups, Live Game Thread

Lineups, television and streaming options, and full coverage of Barcelona vs. Eibar in La Liga. Join the conversation!

MATCH INFO, HOW TO WATCH ON TV/ONLINE

Preview: Barcelona vs. Eibar, La Liga Matchday 5

Date/Time: Tuesday, September 19, 2017, 10pm local time, 9pm (UK & Nigeria), 4pm ET, 1pm PT (USA), 1:30am IST (India, Wednesday)

Venue: Camp Nou, Barcelona, Catalonia

Television: beIN SPORTS (USA & Canada), Sky Sports Mix (UK), SuperSport 7 (Nigeria), SONY TEN 2 (India)

Online streaming: beIN SPORTS CONNECT (USA & Canada), Sky GO (UK), FuboTV (7-day free trial, click here to sign up)

(Listings via LiveSoccerTV)


LINEUPS

Barcelona

Starting XI: ter Stegen; Semedo, Pique, Mascherano, Digne; Busquets, Paulinho, Iniesta; Deulofeu, Messi, Denis

Bench: Cillessen, Alba, Vermalen, Vidal, Roberto, Rakitić, Suarez

Eibar

Starting XI: Dmitrović; Arbilla, Paulo, Galvez, Junca; Escalante, Garcia, Jordan; Capa, Enrich, Inui

Bench: Riesgo, Lomban, Angel, Rivera, Bebe, Pena, Charles


JOIN THE CONVERSATION

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“A Croatian Guy Walks Into a Bar” Story By Ivan Rakitic in The Players’ Tribune

The FC Barcelona player takes us through his life

Ivan Rakitic has written a first-person account of his life: growing up, starting his career, meeting his wife, joining Sevilla, moving to Barcelona, and having children.

You can read it here.

This account was written for The Players’ Tribune, a website which publishes content created by athletes. It was written by former New York Yankees star Derek Jeter.

Some interesting tidbits:

  • Rakitic suspects that his wife, Raquel, didn’t want to go out with him when he first got to Sevilla because she thought he wasn’t going to be good. He thinks she thought Sevilla would sell him quickly, and he would have to move countries.
  • It was actually difficult for him to move away from Sevilla, the city in which he met Raquel. But in the end, her and her whole family understood his decision.
  • The Barcelona players were surprised with how much Spanish he spoke, and he thinks it helped him adapt quickly.
  • His four-year-old daughter gets really mad when someone besides him scores, even if he assisted it. “Maybe I will try to talk to Lionel Messi about this,” he jokes.

Barcelona vs. Eibar 2017 live stream: Lineups, Kickoff time, TV listings and how to watch La Liga online

Barça will be looking to stay perfect in La Liga and Lionel Messi is playing, so you should watch it

Following a great comeback win at Getafe with the bad news of Ousmane Dembélé’s injury over the weekend, Barcelona are right back in action with a match against Eibar at Camp Nou today.

The Blaugrana have won all six league meetings with Eibar and scored 20 goals in those matches since the Basque club won promotion to La Liga, and Barça will once again be favorites to get the win.

Even though their performance on Saturday wasn’t great, the Catalan giants have had a strong start to the season and could get a sixth straight victory in all competitions and continue to survive a period of crisis with great football on the pitch.

Without Dembélé for the next four months, Lionel Messi and Luis Suárez are under bigger pressure to perform and keep the team in a strong position until the young Frenchman returns, but fans can certainly trust Messi and Suárez to get the victory. The two superstars like to face Eibar and combined to score 14 goals against them since 2015, so expect them to improve their record tonight.

So Barça will be looking to stay perfect in the league and it’s another chance to watch Lionel Messi. So yeah, you shouldn’t miss this one.


LINEUPS

Lineups will be posted when announced.


MATCH INFO

Date/Time: Tuesday, September 19, 2017, 10pm local time, 9pm (UK & Nigeria), 4pm ET, 1pm PT (USA), 1:30am IST (India, Wednesday)

Venue: Camp Nou, Barcelona, Catalonia

HOW TO WATCH, STREAM LA LIGA

Television: beIN SPORTS (USA & Canada), Sky Sports Mix (UK), SuperSport 7 (Nigeria), SONY TEN 2 (India)

Online streaming: beIN SPORTS CONNECT (USA & Canada), Sky GO (UK), FuboTV (7-day free trial, click here to sign up)

(Listings via LiveSoccerTV)