Philippe Coutinho will need time at Barcelona says Ernesto Valverde

Philippe Coutinho will need time at Barcelona says Ernesto Valverde

Philippe Coutinho will need time at Barcelona says Ernesto Valverde

BARCELONA superstars Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez backed up their new teammate after a disappointing start to his Nou Camp career.

Messi secured the points for the La Liga leaders with a sublime free-kick. They never panicked when going one goal down, remained composed and let their quality come to the fore as they overturned the early deficit.

Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi both scored in the second half to ensure they didn't drop points at the top of the table.

Alaves fought admirably for the entire 90 minutes, with Guidetti and Ibai Gomez particularly impressive, but unfortunately for them it was not to be, as Barcelona had just too much class in the end. Luis Muriel had slid in a 72nd-minute opener for hosts but with seconds to spare Juan Cala challenged Sevilla keeper Sergio Rico for a hopeful high ball, and with the Sevilla fans and players clamouring for a free-kick, Angel lashed home the leveller and celebrated under a hail of whistles and boos. "We're suffering more mentally than physically", Zidane said. It would have provoked counter-attacks. Let us know in the comments section below.

Barca can restore their huge lead over Madrid with victory over Alaves, but Valverde believes that may be easier said than done. When quizzed about the handball, Valverde said: "Apart from cutting off his hand, we couldn't do anything".

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"Sometimes the ball goes in and you don't get a goal, other times this can happen", he added.

"They complained a lot about it. Umtiti told me it was not deliberate".

Barcelona's club-record signing Philippe Coutinho made his full debut since joining from Liverpool but he was ineffectual before being replaced.

Atletico Madrid eased past Las Palmas to strengthen their grip on second place.

Should Valverde's side avoid defeat in next weekend's derby at Espanyol, they will be out in front on their own, although their local rivals did win 1-0 Cornella-El Prat in the first leg of this month's Copa del Rey quarter-final.

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