Neymar does not have to leave Paris Saint-Germain to fulfil his goal of becoming the world's best player, according to Brazil team-mate Alisson.

The forward was strongly linked with a return to Barcelona during the transfer window, but no move to Camp Nou came to fruition.

Neymar has instead remained in the French capital, scoring four goals in five Ligue 1 games since recovering from a foot injury.

The 27-year-old did not finish in the top 10 for the 2018 Ballon d'Or but, asked if Neymar could become the best player in the world by joining Barcelona, Alisson told Mundo Deportivo: "I think that Neymar can be the best in the world on any team.

"Neymar is a high-level player and would be fundamental in any team in the world. If he returns to Barcelona or not... I wish him good luck and to play with his usual joy and energy, wherever he is."

Five-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi was reportedly pushing for Neymar to be signed by Barca, but he told RAC1 this month he was surprised his former team-mate did not join Real Madrid after it became clear he wanted to leave PSG.

Messi and Alisson met in the Champions League for the second season in a row last term, with the former Roma goalkeeper again coming out on top with a stunning second-leg comeback.

The Argentina captain had struck twice in the first leg to seemingly give Liverpool a mountain to climb but they won 4-0 at Anfield to overturn their deficit, going on to win the tournament by defeating fellow Premier League side Tottenham in the final.

Alisson also got the better of Messi at this year's Copa America, where Brazil beat Argentina 2-0 in the semi-finals before going on to lift the trophy on home soil with a win over Peru.

"The truth is that Messi played very well in the first leg in Barcelona and achieved two goals, but in the return I managed to stop him in some important moments," Alisson added.

"Messi is one of the best players in football history, but I don't think only of duels with him. Both Barcelona and Argentina are two very good teams that have high quality players.

"Luckily, in the last three matches I have been able to overcome him, but the merits are of the whole team: Rome, Liverpool and Brazil."

 

Carles Puyol admits he prefers Lionel Messi's softly-softly approach to diplomacy at Barcelona over the blunt style of Gerard Pique.

Long-serving defender Pique recently hit out when he blamed the demands of Barca's pre-season travels for the poor start to their LaLiga title defence.

He also suggested the Barcelona board may have been planting stories in the media that were critical of players.

Messi, by contrast, rarely speaks out, and former Barcelona captain Puyol indicated he would follow the superstar forward's lead when it comes to handling club issues.

"You have to respect Gerard," Puyol told reporters on Saturday. "We all know him, we know he says what he thinks, he goes straight...

"I liked to talk the same as Messi, so would have acted just like him."

Puyol also clarified his decision to turn down the sporting director post at Barcelona, explaining he was too busy to take on the responsibility.

"I think the statement was very clear, you can't interpret much more," he said.

"I am at a time when I develop new projects, the next one will come out in a few days and will be related to the Danone Nations Cup, with football and values, an online programme designed for fathers and mothers who want to share time with their children.

"I have many more. I had been working on them for many months and I don't think it's time to leave them. It was not the time to join Barca."

Puyol's former team-mate Victor Valdes was sacked as coach of the Barcelona Under-19 side this month, the ex-goalkeeper having reportedly clashed with La Masia head Patrick Kluivert.

"Victor still doesn't have much experience as a coach," Puyol said. "Last season he did very well and has a lot of knowledge about soccer to teach children.

"I do not know the reasons for what happened, I am not in the club, but I know that he will have a good career as a coach and that he will train great players.

"Youth football is not easy. Many times you look more at the results and you also have to think about the development and training of the children."

Jose Mourinho says Brazil icon Ronaldo is the best player he has ever seen.

The Portuguese was assistant coach to Bobby Robson during the striker's stunning 1996-97 season with Barcelona when he scored 47 goals in 49 appearances across all competitions.

Ronaldo went on to enjoy goal-laden spells at Inter and Real Madrid and fired Brazil to a fifth World Cup triumph in 2002 before hanging up his boots in 2011. 

Mourinho coached Cristiano Ronaldo for three years at Madrid and has watched Barca forward Lionel Messi throughout his career, with the two players considered to be among the greatest of all time.

But while conceding the pair have sustained their brilliance over longer periods, Mourinho - who has been out of a job since his departure from Manchester United in December - says no-one can touch Ronaldo for pure "talent and skill".

When asked by LiveScore who the best player he had seen was, Mourinho said: "Ronaldo.

"Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have had longer careers; they have remained at the top every day for 15 years. However, if we are talking strictly about talent and skill, nobody surpasses Ronaldo.

"When he was at Barcelona with Bobby Robson, I realised that he was the best player I'd ever seen take to the field. Injuries killed a career that could have been even more incredible, but the talent that that 19-year-old boy had was something incredible.

"In 1997, Barcelona played against PSG in Rotterdam and Ronaldo's goal, 1-0. Awesome."

Lionel Messi admitted he wanted to leave Barcelona in order to get out of Spain after authorities investigated him for tax fraud.

The Argentina star and his father were found guilty of evading tax on income from image rights by a Catalonian court in 2016 and were sentenced to 21 months in prison, although this was changed to a fine a year later.

Messi has now revealed he felt so "mistreated" during the investigation that he considered quitting Barcelona so he could get out of the country, but he thinks other clubs were put off making official offers as they knew he was at heart a one-club man.

"In the years 2012, 2013 and 2014, I had a tough time," Messi told RAC1. "Yes, for the issue with the Hacienda [Spain's state tax agency]. It was really difficult for me and my family because people didn't really know what was happening. They heard things and they opined. A part of the press did the same, too.

"I think I was the first [footballer to be investigated by the Hacienda] and for that reason it was all so hard. My kids were little.

"At that time, I honestly thought about leaving. Not because I wanted to leave Barca, but to leave Spain because I felt mistreated and I didn't want to be here. I had many doors open but never anything official because everyone knew my desire was to continue but it was something which went beyond my feelings towards Barca."

Question marks over Messi's future appeared again this September when he told Sport that, although he did not want to leave Camp Nou, he was eager to be part of a "winning team".

It was suggested the 32-year-old was referring to recent Champions League frustrations, with Barca's last triumph coming in 2015 and their past two campaigns ending in humiliating defeats to Roma and Liverpool.

However, Messi has made it clear he wants to end his career with Barcelona and may even pass on his dream of playing for boyhood club Newell's Old Boys in Argentina before he retires as he does not want to uproot his family.

"It's true we struggled to get started this season, but we have a good squad with great players to be able to win everything," Messi said.

"We are here to win and to win titles. In recent years we have been close. In the last two years, it was our fault for the way we got knocked out. It wasn't the project or the coach. We have a great squad to be able to win everything.

"And obviously, if they want me, I'm delighted [to stay]. I will repeat: my idea is always to stay here. My idea and my family's idea is to end my career here."

He added that he has "always dreamed" of playing for Newell's.

"But sometimes you have to think more about the family than what you want," Messi said. "The family is the most important thing."

Messi also hopes to see former team-mate Xavi return to Barca as a coach, even if that happens after he has retired. Xavi is currently coaching Qatari side Al Sadd.

"He's in training and at some point he'll come back here," Messi added. "I have a feeling he'll be similar to [Pep] Guardiola. I don't know if I'll experience it as a player, of course."

Lionel Messi has dismissed suggestions he did not want Barcelona to sign Antoine Griezmann as a "lie".

Griezmann joined the LaLiga champions in a long-anticipated €120million transfer ahead of the 2019-20 season.

Barca were also heavily linked with trying to bring Neymar back to Camp Nou but Messi insists a desire to be reunited with his former team-mate did not mean he was cold on the Griezmann deal.

"Obviously it is a lie that I did not want Griezmann," he told RAC 1.

"Last year I said he was one of the best and the best are always welcome. I also wanted Neymar to come for the same reason, because he is different - one of the best, and to have him here would have been important for our goals.

"But with Ney we had to look beyond sports, many parties did not want him to come [due to] everything that had happened."

Griezmann has scored three times in seven LaLiga appearances but struggled to hit the heights that made him one of the most sought-after players in the world while at Atletico Madrid.

He completed 90 minutes and failed to score in the three games in which Barca have dropped points in LaLiga this season, while he is without a Champions League goal and was an unused substitute for last weekend's 4-0 win over Sevilla.

The France international said Messi's early season calf injury and the fact neither player talks too much had made it "difficult" for them to establish a relationship.

Messi maintains there are no issues and knows adapting to Barcelona and the current interpretation of their famed style takes time.

"For any player who does not know the Barca method, coming from outside is very difficult," he added.

"Griezmann is an intelligent player, of great quality, and he will end up adapting."

Neymar signing for Real Madrid was a prospect Lionel Messi feared was about to become a reality.

The Brazil superstar featured in a lethal front three alongside Messi and Luis Suarez at Camp Nou before joining Paris Saint-Germain in a world-record €222m move two years ago.

Reports of Neymar wishing to return to LaLiga have been frequent since then and an 'MSN' reunion was mooted during the close season.

But with Barcelona unable to put together a package to make the deal happen, Messi worried his old team-mate would end up pulling on the famous white shirt of their sworn rivals.

"I honestly thought that in this market, if he did not come here, he would go to Madrid, because I really thought he wanted to leave," five-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi told RAC1.

"He said it, he wanted to change, to leave Paris. I thought that Florentino [Perez, Real Madrid president] and Madrid would do something to take him away."

Barcelona still boast a plethora of elite forward options.

Messi is back to fitness after a calf problem delayed his start to the 2019-20 season, while Suarez came through a period of criticism to score four times in the space of eight days before the international break.

Big-money arrival Antoine Griezmann is still bedding in, although his fellow France international Ousmane Dembele must serve a suspension having been sent off for dissent during the 4-0 victory against Sevilla last time out.

In his report, referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz said Dembele told him he was "very bad, you're very bad" in response to Barca youngster Ronald Araujo being red-carded.

Like coach Ernesto Valverde, Messi was perplexed by the incident – mainly due to Dembele's lack of aptitude with the Spanish language – that means the winger is set to miss El Clasico at Camp Nou later this month.

"It is very difficult for him to be able to say that because it is difficult for him to put together sentences and speak well enough to speak clearly," Messi said.

"The coach supported him at a press conference. The truth is we were surprised that [the referee] understood it so clearly because Ousmane has a hard time speaking Spanish – although he makes himself understood and understands everything.

"It's difficult [to accept the referee] understood it so clearly. That's just the way it is."

Antoine Griezmann is having to adapt to a different style of play at Barcelona but is certainly not unhappy at the club, according to team-mate Clement Lenglet.

Griezmann, a €120million signing from Atletico Madrid in the transfer window, has struggled to find top form since moving to Camp Nou.

The 28-year-old has scored three goals in seven LaLiga appearances but has generally found it difficult to influence games from the left of Ernesto Valverde's attack.

He was dropped to the bench for compatriot Ousmane Dembele for Barca's latest game, a 4-0 league win over Sevilla on Sunday, in which Dembele scored.

There have also been concerns Griezmann is not suited to playing alongside club captain Lionel Messi, largely after the France forward admitted in a news conference that the pair do not often speak.

However, Lenglet insists there is no cause for concern around Griezmann's place at the club.

When asked if Griezmann is happier in the France squad than with Barca, Lenglet replied: "No. I am with him every day and I can tell you that he is very happy in Barcelona.

"He's a positive person who always has a smile on his face. When he arrives in the French team that fact doesn't change. He loves to make jokes, you know him. He hasn't changed, whether it's in Barcelona or in the France squad.

"He's someone who has just arrived and Barcelona is a different club from the other clubs, which plays a different game - a different game from Atletico.

"He has scored three goals, I think he's the club's second-best scorer, even though it's only the beginning of the season. It's still something quite positive.

"He works a lot for the team. He used to play as second striker at Atletico and now he plays on one side. He helps us a lot with his talent and his defensive efforts in every game. He's sacrificing himself for the team. I don't think there is an 'Antoine Griezmann case' as you can try to make me say."

Messi scored his first goal of the season from a free-kick against Sevilla, having been sidelined for much of the early part of the season with a calf problem.

Lenglet says the Argentina star has still been teaching him a few lessons in training, however, where he gives his defensive team-mates a torrid time.

"He is an extraordinary player. We are very happy to have him in Barcelona. He makes a lot of difference," said Lenglet.

"When we are in training, we set the pace. Leo often plays as a joker. He is very clever in his placement, in his way of protecting the ball. It's hard to steal it. You have to anticipate well in advance. We suffer daily but we are happy to have him with us every weekend. That's the main thing."

One of the big positives of Barca's season has been the breakthrough of Ansu Fati, the 16-year-old who has scored twice in five league appearances and captured the attention of Spain with his performances.

"Ansu is very talented," said Lenglet. "He's in a dressing room with a lot of international players and very good players in his position. He took advantage of some absences to have playing time. He was very good when he played.

"He has some minor problems given his age to follow the rhythm of matches and training, but he is very well cared for. He is very professional. It's a very pleasant surprise. I think he's a good player for the future but also for the present because he has many qualities."

Barcelona head coach Ernesto Valverde was left pondering Ousmane Dembele's red card at the end of his side's rout of Sevilla, claiming the Frenchman's grasp of Spanish would have restricted the words that led to his dismissal.

Dembele was sent off two minutes from time for protesting the red card shown to Barcelona debutant Ronald Araujo in Sunday's 4-0 LaLiga victory, and Valverde said the late disciplinary flurry did not reflect the manner of the game.

Barca cruised to their fourth consecutive win in all competitions, scoring three goals in eight first-half minutes before captain Lionel Messi added a fourth with a second-half free-kick.

Valverde praised his side's incisive forward play after the champions moved within two points of top spot thanks to goals from Luis Suarez, Arturo Vidal, Dembele and Messi.

"We have had more punch than them, there is the key," Valverde told reporters afterwards.

"The result is substantial, but we don't have to be forgiving to our rivals.

"The red cards? It's the referee's decision. Everyone has their opinion. I've seen a pretty clean game.

"It didn't seem like Araujo's fault, but I always see everything in favour of my team.

"I don't know what Dembele may have said to the referee but I don't think it's a long sentence because it's hard to hear him speak Spanish."

Sevilla coach Julen Lopetegui hailed his side's bright start, in which Luuk de Jong squandered three good opportunities to put the visitors ahead.

But Barcelona's dominance thereafter leaves Sevilla with three defeats from their last four LaLiga matches and Lopetegui felt the result at Camp Nou was harsh on his players.

"The first 30 to 35 minutes were ours," said Lopetegui. "We had very clear chances and we didn't score. And in such a scenario when you don't take advantage, the laws of football take effect."

Lionel Messi scored his 100th goal from outside the box for Barcelona as he helped the LaLiga champions past Sevilla.

Messi netted a trademark free-kick in the second half as Barca routed Sevilla 4-0 at Camp Nou on Sunday.

The Barca captain curled a set-piece past Sevilla goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik with 12 minutes remaining to complete the scoring.

Messi's first goal of the season was his 43rd successful free-kick as the five-time Ballon d'Or winner and recipient of The Best FIFA Men's Player award celebrated a century milestone.

The 32-year-old superstar also became the first player to score in 16 consecutive LaLiga seasons in the 21st century.

Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele scored memorable goals for Barcelona as Ernesto Valverde's decision to drop Antoine Griezmann was vindicated in a 4-0 victory over Sevilla.

While their €120million signing among the substitutes, Suarez's acrobatic overhead kick got the LaLiga champions off the mark, Arturo Vidal polished off a sublime passing move with the second and Dembele scored a solo effort to all but end the contest.

Lionel Messi wrapped up the win with a curling second-half free-kick and the synergy between Barcelona's front three, which has not always clicked with Griezmann involved, will not have been lost on Valverde.

The match ended in unsavoury fashion for the Catalans, though, who saw debutant Ronald Araujo and Dembele sent off shortly before injury time.

Luuk de Jong received good service from Lucas Ocampos in the early stages but he fluffed three chances put Sevilla ahead before Suarez broke the deadlock with a moment of magic 27 minutes in.

The Uruguay marksman watched Nelson Semedo's cross loop through the air and met it with an overhead kick into the bottom corner of the net before goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik could react.

The goal settled the hosts and five minutes later a move that incorporated 25 passes and all 11 Barcelona players culminated in Arthur's weighted ball, which allowed Vidal to slide in and glance a shot past Vaclik.

Dembele made it 3-0 inside eight first-half minutes when his slaloming run tore through Sevilla's defence, the 22-year-old opening his body and side-footing in at the far post.

The second half started just like the first, with De Jong squandering a great chance to score when he drilled a shot against the post from just inside the Barca box.

The hosts were soon back on top and Messi twice surged through Sevilla's midfield before putting the finishing touches on a fine win with a dipping, curling free-kick 12 minutes from time.

Valverde sent on Araujo for his debut, which turned sour when he was judged to have fouled Javier Hernandez as the Sevilla forward went through on goal and was shown a red card along with Dembele, who was sent off for his protests.

 

What does it mean? Barca go second

After Atletico Madrid were held to a goalless draw at Real Valladolid, Barcelona took full advantage and claimed a result that moved them up to second place in the table, two points behind leaders Real Madrid.

Frenkie says 'Relax!'

A run of mixed results in August and September left Valverde under pressure but his players looked calm and assured here, none more so than Frenkie de Jong, who looks every inch the composed midfield lynchpin to succeed Sergio Busquets – a second-half substitute here.

No luck for Luuk

While Barca's De Jong barely put a foot wrong his Sevilla namesake had a torrid evening, the centre-forward missing four clear chances to give the visitors a foothold in the game.

What's next?

Barcelona will hope to extend their winning run to five matches in all competitions by beating Eibar away from home on October 19, while Sevilla aim to get back on course as they entertain Levante a day later.

Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez are fit for Barcelona but Ernesto Valverde's focus is on getting his star forwards fully up to speed. 

Suarez scored both Barca goals in a comeback victory at home to Inter in the Champions League in midweek with Messi, whose season has been plagued by injury, setting up the second at the end of an excellent run. 

Barca's indifferent start to their LaLiga title defence has not been helped by injuries to both forwards, with Valverde's side five points behind leaders Real Madrid heading into their encounter with Sevilla. 

Neither Messi or Suarez will play for Argentina or Uruguay for the upcoming internationals, with Valverde acknowledging it presents him with an opportunity to get the duo back up to their full capacity. 

"Of course they are fit again, they showed that [against Inter]," Valverde told a news conference ahead of a meeting with Sevilla at Camp Nou. 

"I will decide on Sunday whether I start one or the other or bring them on later. They are two players who have struggled with injuries this season but the more they play the more form they will get.  

"We like the players to be picked for international duty because it means they're not injured, because it means they're playing at their top level. 

"There are not many players for us going this international break - that's not necessarily a bad thing. 

"It means we will have a more complete squad for training and can work on certain things. But after that fortnight we've got important matches in LaLiga and the Champions League and we need to be ready for those. 

"We're doing well. We've hit on a good run, now we're playing a very strong team, the aim is to keep moving forward." 

Barca have been without Jordi Alba since the left-back sustained a hamstring injury in the Champions League draw with Borussia Dortmund on September 17, but Valverde confirmed the Spain international is back in contention. 

"Not having a specific left-footed full-back is unnatural," said Valverde, who has also been shorn of Junior Firpo due to a hamstring problem. 

"The players who have had to play there have done well, the players are used to this kind of thing but we'll see if Jordi can recover. 

"We'll wait but it's certainly a possibility. He's not been declared fully fit yet, he did part of training the other day. He certainly felt fine but we'll wait to see how things go." 

Alba was later included in a 19-man squad by Valverde, with Ansu Fati also returning from injury.

Julen Lopetegui acknowledged Barcelona are a better team with a fit Lionel Messi, but insisted his Sevilla side can come away from Camp Nou with a positive result.

Messi completed his first 90 minutes of an injury-plagued campaign in Wednesday's 2-1 Champions League win against Inter.

The 32-year-old has started just two games this season because of calf and adductor problems but is in contention to play against Sevilla, a side he has scored 36 goals against in all competitions.

Lopetegui is more concerned about what he can control, however, with Sevilla heading into the match in Catalonia level on points with the reigning champions.

"I want to focus on my own players," he said at Saturday's pre-match news conference. "Barcelona are a great team and, if Messi is involved, they will be better because he can only improve the team.

"But we will try to give a great version of ourselves. We will go there with enthusiasm, desire and ambition. It's a game that will demand the best from us."

Sevilla have won just one of their last 24 LaLiga games against Barcelona and Lopetegui is fully aware of the size of the task awaiting his side.

"I hope for the best Barcelona," said the former Spain and Real Madrid boss. "They are at a great level and we are sure to see a great team, very good players and a very well-directed side. I have no doubt what we will find.

"Every game has to be played and we have to try to compete in the best way. The games have many moments and we have to know how to adapt and compete. That's where we have to focus".

Spain cannot select Ansu Fati yet due to a lack of clearance from FIFA, the Under-21 coach Luis de la Fuente has confirmed.

Fati was tipped for a call-up after breaking into the Barcelona team this season at the age of 16, becoming their youngest LaLiga goalscorer by finding the net against Osasuna.

Born in Guinea-Bissau, the forward also had the option to represent Portugal at international level, but has been granted Spanish citizenship and chosen to play for La Roja.

Fati will have to wait for his first taste of international action, however, after he was left out of Spain's senior and Under-21 squads on Friday.

"I waited until the last moment," De la Fuente told a news conference of Fati's absence.

"But it is for the simple reason that he is not selectable. I do not know the details, but he lacks some procedure with FIFA."

Spain senior coach Robert Moreno also said Fati was on his radar ahead of Euro 2020 qualifiers against Norway and Sweden this month.

"I considered calling him," Moreno told reporters. "He was on the pre-list.

"We thought he could do well. He was on the pre-list, we value him, there were a number of events that have been going on, bureaucratic issues after he was injured and we could not summon him.

"Allow me for this exception when talking about someone who is not on the list, but he was a special case that had to be treated in an honest way."

Fati could also be selected for the Under-17 World Cup by Spain, with the tournament set to run from October 26 to November 17 in Brazil.

Angel Di Maria has revealed Lionel Messi left his Argentina team-mates in tears with a rousing speech following their defeat to Brazil at the Copa America.

Argentina suffered a 2-0 semi-final loss to the eventual champions Brazil in Belo Horizonte in July.

Messi captained his national side and was proud of their display in the tournament, which culminated in victory over Chile in the third-place play-off.

La Albiceleste fell short in a major competition yet again, but Di Maria was inspired by what Messi had to say.

"He said some beautiful words when we were eliminated by Brazil," Di Maria told ESPN Argentina. "Messi told us he was proud of the team we had built. That we had not been together much as some had not been called up [to the senior team] before. Yet, it felt as though we had all been together for many years.

"He said that we had all rowed in the same direction from the first day. That he was very proud of the youngsters for their commitment to this jersey and if they were there and gave what they gave at the Copa America, it was because they more than deserved to be there.

"Once he finished, everyone was in tears because it touched everyone's hearts, especially the youngsters."

Messi has been unable to replicate his Barcelona form on the international stage with Argentina, and critics have accused him of lacking the passion required to skipper the side.

But Paris Saint-Germain attacker Di Maria claimed he has seen a different side to Messi this year.

"There was a lot of criticism that he didn't sing [the national anthem], that he didn't talk," Di Maria said.

"This Copa America was different. He proved it. What made me happier was to see how he spoke in front of the group, how he spoke to reporters, what he said. The important thing is that Leo is like this. I like this Messi."

Barcelona head coach Ernesto Valverde praised the impact of Lionel Messi in the club's come-from-behind Champions League win over Inter.

Messi returned from injury to help LaLiga champions Barca to a 2-1 victory against Inter at Camp Nou on Wednesday.

The Barca captain made just his second start of the season, having missed the Getafe trip due to a thigh injury sustained against Villarreal, and he set up Luis Suarez for the 84th-minute winner.

Discussing Messi's performance post-match, Valverde told reporters: "It is the first game that he played in full, also a game with a significant physical burden on the opponent and the competition.

"In any play he can help you even when he is tired. Messi has not done a pre-season like the others, so he has to catch up."

Messi was at the centre of Barca's match-winner, with the five-time Ballon d'Or champion finding Suarez on the edge of the box as his Uruguayan team-mate slotted home six minutes from the end.

Valverde added: "In the end he made a fantastic play, but he was more tired than at the beginning."

Suarez silenced his critics with a brace – making it three goals in two games – as Barca rallied past Antonio Conte's Inter on home soil.

Lautaro Martinez had silenced the crowd with his second-minute opener, but Suarez restored parity approaching the hour mark before getting Barca's Group F campaign up and running following their goalless draw at Borussia Dortmund.

"Strikers live in the danger zone," Valverde said. "They play in the most difficult area as they are always surrounded by defenders and need to solve the situations against the defenders they have onto them, so that is hard.

"Sometimes you cannot succeed, like one week ago, but then he scored once for La Liga and twice for Champions League. Luis has probed for long time already what he is capable of, so he keeps doing so."

Barca have struggled to convince this season amid growing pressure on Valverde and the Spanish boss added: "Of course this is an important win as it was a very important game, given how tight the group table was after the first match-day and also for the upcoming games.

"From the very first minute you all saw how important this game was for both teams given the intensity we both showed. For us, after drawing our first match playing a not-good game, I hope this comeback will help us for the upcoming fixtures."

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