Tuesday, 23 July, 2019

Valverde admits Messi's brilliance transcends rivalries after Betis ovation

Valverde admits Messi’s brilliance transcends rivalries after Betis ovation Result: Lionel Messi hits stunning hat-trick to send Barcelona 10 points clear
Shannon Reynolds | 18 March, 2019, 12:48

Valverde changed Barca's shape for the game against Betis, dropping Philippe Coutinho and playing a midfield four after losing to Quique Setien's side at Camp Nou earlier in the season. Messi, who even earned acclaim from the home fans after his third goal, is certainly delivering the performance levels Barca will need if they are to win the treble. But this game will be remembered by the 54,000 mostly Betis spectators who turned up on Sunday to back their team, only to end up honoring the man who helped deal it a hefty defeat.

Still, he was taken aback by the applause he received from the Betis fans. Messi Leads Barcelona with 26 goals and 12 assists in 25 games while Suarez added 17 goals. "I'm very grateful to them and happy for the victory, which was very important", Messi said. His shot grazed the underside of the bar before going in, triggering the outburst of praise from Betis fans.

But Messi saved his best for late after substitute Loren Moron had pulled one back for the hosts.

Barcelona's last league loss was 4-3 at home to Betis in November.

Already in the final of the Copa del Rey, where Barca will return to this stadium to face Valencia in May, a treble is certainly not beyond the realms of possibility.

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Barcelona is playing in wonderful form right now and once again have a chance to win triple crown this season, LaLiga, Copa del Rey and Champions League. Worse things have happened before.

Messi now has 29 league goals this season, 39 in all competitions, and together with Suarez's 18 their joint-total of 47 is more than all but two of the other teams in the division. "There are still lots of points in play and we have to keep playing like this". Suarez, clearly in pain, had to receive treatment on the sidelines and Barca later confirmed he had sprained his ankle and would undergo tests on Monday to determine how long he would be out.

"His match tonight was extraordinary, he's scored three goals and also made a fourth".

Suarez limped off injured in the final minutes and Messi could have added a fifth, only for the post to rescue Betis.

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