Barcelona overcame a lacklustre Deportivo Alavés 3-0 at Camp Nou , however it was star man Lionel Messi who received all of coach Ernesto Valverde’s plaudits.
The Argentine scored twice, while Philippe Coutinho also made the score-sheet despite finding the woodwork on two occasions.
Relish every moment
The win marks a perfect start to their title defence and Messi’s performance urged Valverde to say we’re lucky to be living in the same era as him.
“Messi is a genius,” Valverde told reporters after the game. “We’re lucky to be able to see him every day.
“We’re lucky to be involved in football during the era in which he is playing — we want him to pull a rabbit from his hat every day.”
“There’s still room for Messi to surprise us,” he added. “He always surprises you — he never ceases to amaze me, honestly.”
A landmark to be recognised
Messi’s free-kick snuck through under the legs of the jumping wall for his first goal of the season and the 6,000th goal for Barcelona in the league.
“I had no idea where he was going to put that free kick,” Valverde enthused. ” No one did. It was like the one he scored against Girona last season. It’s not a common free kick but he does it often.
“He also scored a free kick against Alaves last year like his one in the first half tonight, which hit the bar. That was a great effort. You have to be ready to expect anything from Messi because he sees what no one else sees.”
Alaves were the last team to beat Barca at Camp Nou in La Liga, back in 2016, they gave a good account of themselves the first half and went into the break with score still goalless.
However, the gulf in class soon took centre stage and Valverde feels his side were slow off the mark.
“Even in the first 15 minutes of the second half, you could see that we were struggling [to break them down],” Valverde added.
“Alaves sat back deep, defensively they were very good and they kept their lines together well. We had to have patience but as the game grew we began to create more chances as they tired.”