Barcelona will face Olympique Lyonnais in the last-16 of the Champions League following the draw on Monday morning.
Following on from their excellent 5-0 victory over Levante on Sunday evening, Ernesto Valverde’s side have been drawn against Ligue 1 outfit Lyon in the next round of Europe’s elite competition.
The French side beat AS Monaco at the weekend 3-0 and sit third in their domestic league, whilst they finished runners up to Manchester City in their Champions League group, beating the Premier League giants once and drawing the other.
The first leg of the last-16 tie will take place on the 12th February at Parc Olympique Lyonnais, before the return Camp Nou tie at the beginning of March.
Messi excellence sees Barca breeze past Levante
Last season’s trip to Ciudad de Valencia saw the Catalan side lose 5-4 and incredibly be losing 5-1 at one point during the game, but they made no mistake this time round, thumping Paco Lopez’ side 5-0.
The scoring began when Messi played in Luis Suarez, who dispatched a superb volley past former Barca keeper Oier Olazabal.
Messi would then get himself on the scoresheet, not once, not twice – but three times, netting his 49th hat-trick of his career.
Not finished yet, the Argentine would become provider once more when he played in Gerard Pique, who drove forward from defence to notch Barca’s fifth of the game – and one that sealed their free standing at the top of La Liga.
Valverde discusses 3-4-3 experiment
“Last season we conceded five after going the whole year without losing,” Valverde said after the game.
“We knew about the danger posed by Levante, who are having a great season, and it was a game that we had marked out. We were able to move forward and I’m especially satisfied. Going with three at the back was a solution that I’d considered when Sergi Roberto got injured.
“We have more options on the left as we have lads who can come in from the B team, but we don’t on the right and ultimately I chose to go with a back three. Nelson picked up his problem in the morning and we had little time. We aren’t fully used to playing with a back three, but we ended up controlling the game.
“A system like this one seems to fit and everything appears more symmetrical, but it’s not so simple. I don’t like changing system. I prefer to give more confidence to what we’ve been doing. They started well and hit the woodwork.
“At first we found it tough, but it was normal. We knew we’d lack depth with Pique in a back three, plus Dembele had the defensive task of covering his flank. We struggled for fluency at first, but we gradually got our game going and became strong.
“Messi makes us tick in every game. Everything goes through him and he gives clarity to our game. He scores golazos and gives assists. We’re lucky to have him and enjoy him. As for Suarez, he played against Espanyol and is perfect.
“We sometimes have to be a little careful with him, but right now he’s fine.”
Pique discusses leaving Barcelona
“We’ve played better in recent weeks, conceding fewer goals and scoring many more,” he said following the 5-0 win.
“Now we’re thinking about our next game. I always find the start of a season tough but when the day comes that I stop enjoying things the way I do, I’ll walk away.
“We hope to do many great things with this great generation of players we have. Despite Semedo’s absence, we started with three centre-backs and two wingbacks. We went out to play like that and it went well. Semedo’s absence came at the last minute. Without a recognised right-sider, we decided to play like we did.
“We must always get Dembele involved. He has a lot of ability, we just have to guide him a bit. Messi and Suarez have 25 goals between them, more than many other teams? They have 28 with me!
“They’ve been the two best forwards in recent years. Luis has goals in his blood and what Leo does speaks for itself.
“We have firepower, we only needed to improve at the back.”