LaLiga: Lionel Messi’s brace leads Barcelona to thumping Alaves win; Atletico Madrid beat Granada
Atletico Madrid’s win was a big psychological enhance on the again of slipping up for the primary time in 9 video games at dwelling to Celta Vigo earlier this week.
Barcelona won’t be capable to catch Atletico Madrid however they could fancy their possibilities in opposition to Paris Saint-Germain after Lionel Messi scored twice in a 5-1 thrashing of Alaves on Saturday.
Messi fired in two sensational long-range efforts and would have had a hat-trick at Camp Nou had a doubtful VAR resolution within the first half not dominated Antoine Griezmann offside.
He did tee up a second of the night time for the 21-year-old Francisco Trincao and was instrumental in Junior Firpo including a fifth too, a flamboyant scoop releasing Griezmann to ship a cross to Firpo on the again submit.
“Leo is targeted, he is joyful, he is ruthless. After we play these passes by means of the strains to him and he finds these gaps, every thing is simpler,” mentioned Ronald Koeman.
Victory means Barca path Atletico by eight factors once more after the leaders quickly pulled 11 clear due to a hard-fought 2-1 win over Granada earlier on Saturday.
Barcelona and Actual Madrid have each performed a recreation greater than Atleti, with Zinedine Zidane’s facet going through Valencia at dwelling on Sunday.
Atletico’s win was a big psychological enhance on the again of slipping up for the primary time in 9 video games at dwelling to Celta Vigo earlier this week.
Their benefit could show too large to shut however Barcelona’s Champions League tie in opposition to PSG, which had the French facet as agency favourites when the draw was made in December, now feels tougher to name.
The query is whether or not a free-flowing Barca assault, stuffed with expertise and orchestrated by Messi, can damage PSG sufficient to make up for what stays a shaky defence, depleted by accidents and susceptible to the counter-attack.
“We’re in good type,” mentioned Koeman. “We preserve creating possibilities and bettering in all facets of our recreation. PSG are an excellent group however I see the tie as very balanced. We go into it with confidence, understanding we must be at our greatest to undergo.”
With Gerard Pique and the rising Ronald Araujo each out injured, Frenkie de Jong stuffed in once more in central defence, though the Dutchman has arguably been Barcelona’s most improved participant this 12 months within the midfield three.
As an alternative there was a begin for Ilaix Kourouma in midfield, the 18-year-old academy product who assisted Trincao’s opening aim however whose misplaced cross led to Luis Rioja briefly giving Alaves hope.
After Trincao had swept dwelling, Messi thought he had made it two, pouncing on a rebound after Griezmann missed however the aim was dominated out, despite the fact that replays prompt Griezmann was onside.
Messi made amends quickly after, latching onto a Sergio Busquets cross, darting in-field and ripping a shot in off the submit.
Late flurry wraps up win
Rioja capitalised on Ilaix’s mistake simply earlier than the hour however Barca pulled away with three objectives in six minutes.
Pedri’s cross freed Messi however he did not spherical Fernando Pacheco and as a substitute the ball spilled out for Trincao to attain his second.
Messi slammed a stinging strike into the highest nook from 25 yards to make it 4-1 earlier than maybe the aim of the night time got here final, Messi scooping over for Griezmann, who volleyed to the again submit the place Firpo couldn’t miss.
Atletico had earlier swerved a second consecutive slip by squeezing previous Granada at Los Carmenes, a victory secured by Angel Correa’s fortuitous winner within the second half.
There was a touch of luck in Granada’s equaliser too, Yangel Herrera’s shot deflecting off Marcos Llorente, who had himself put Atletico in entrance solely three minutes earlier.
“An important factor right this moment was the battle and the power of the group,” mentioned Simeone afterwards.
On the full-time whistle, he shook his fists and sprinted down the tunnel, his reduction evident on the finish of a recreation that might simply have seen extra factors dropped for his facet.
Luis Suarez had scored in six of the earlier seven video games however for as soon as the 34-year-old was not the matchwinner, with Llorente and Correa — two unsung heroes this season — as a substitute proving the distinction.
Llorente’s aim was his seventh of the season whereas his lay-off for Correa was his sixth help.
“As coaches trophies are fantastic as a result of they fill you with pleasure and glory,” Simeone mentioned of Llorente. “However if you work with a footballer and see them develop, you’re feeling much more pleasure and extra enthusiasm to maintain doing what you are doing.”
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