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5 talking points about Barcelona 2-1 Valencia: Unbeaten run keeps going but Messi sulks


Luis Suarez and Samuel Umtiti fired Barcelona past Valencia, taking them one step closer to the title, and earning a new La Liga record of 39 games without defeat.


If Barcelona’s treble dreams died in Rome on Tuesday, this was supposed to be the funeral, at a half-empty Nou Camp.

The team were below their best, lacking energy and inspiration after their Champions League knock-out, but went ahead when Philippe Coutinho played in Suarez, who finished neatly in the 15th minute.

Valencia hit back but Marc-Andre ter Stegen made some superb saves to keep them at bay, and Umtiti headed home Coutinho’s corner in the 51st minute to double Barcelona’s lead.

Gerard Pique hacked a ball off the goalline as Valencia tried to fight back, netting with a late Dani Parejo penalty after a poor Ousmane Dembele challenge, but ultimately came up short, as Barcelona provisionally moved 14 points clear at the top.

Here are the five key talking points from the game…

Unbeaten record set as Barca get back on the wagon



Their treble bid may lie by the wayside in smithereens, but Barcelona were at least able to gain a crumb of comfort from becoming the first side to go unbeaten for 39 games in La Liga.

Starting in April last season, Barcelona have not suffered defeat in the top flight for over a year, matching Real Sociedad’s run of 38 games, set in 1980, last week against Leganes and now going on to make their own record.

This victory was important for the Catalans, to raise morale and start the recovery from their painful Champions League demise.

They will go on to win the Spanish title and could make it a double in the Copa del Rey, which would inarguably be a good trophy haul, even if the Champions League was their main ambition.

Whoever wins it, it will sting for Barca, but most of all if Real Madrid lift ‘big ears’ for a third season running.

SULKING MESSI

There were reports that Messi was in a foul mood in training on Friday, coming out late and then leaving early, and while he’s never the most active player on the pitch in terms of ground covered, even by his standards this was a lazy-looking display.

The forward was not involved as much as usual in attacking moves and didn’t look like he particularly wanted to be either.

While Coutinho and Iniesta impressed, Messi had one of his least connected games of the season. Of course, when you’re the best player in the world you can still have an impact and when he did have the ball, he oozed quality.



One searing volley whistled inches past the top corner, if it had flown in it would be one of the best of his career, and he came to life right at the end with a dribble and neat cross for Iniesta.

“Messi, Messi,” chanted the crowd afterwards, delighted he had finally come out to play.

Ultimately, Messi is probably still feeling the sting from Rome, and perhaps from seeing rival Cristiano Ronaldo send Madrid through the next day, and by this time next week he’ll be in a better place and back to his best. You can’t keep him down for long.

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