Valverde: Four-midable Messi performance isn't news any more

BARCELONA • Lionel Messi's four-goal masterclass in the 6-1 demolition of Eibar on Tuesday held little surprise for Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde.

With record signing Ousmane Dembele injured and Luis Suarez rested, Messi put on a sensational show at the Nou Camp to extend Barcelona's LaLiga lead.

The clinical Argentinian has 11 goals in his last five games in all competitions.

"From a move where it looks like nothing is going to happen, he can create something good for us and bad for the opposition," Valverde told reporters.

"But him scoring four goals isn't news any more. He's done this time and time again, on many nights and in many games. He repeats it, he repeats it and he repeats it."

Messi has scored four goals or more six times in a Barcelona shirt.

Forward Lionel Messi beating Marko Dmitrovic from the penalty spot to give Barcelona a 1-0 lead against Eibar at the Nou Camp. The Argentinian finished the Spanish LaLiga game with four goals in the 6-1 victory. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Having coached Athletic Bilbao before joining Barcelona, Valverde has faced Messi multiple times, but for new boy Nelson Semedo, experiencing the 30-year-old's magic live is a relatively new sensation.

"Game by game he surprises us, there are no words for him," said the Portuguese right back, who won the penalty which Messi converted for his first goal of the night in the 21st minute.

Messi's second was a finish inside Marko Dmitrovic's far post just before the hour mark, while Paulinho played him in to stab home his hat-trick just three minutes later. His third was also his 300th Nou Camp goal since he opened his account against Albacete in 2005.

Barcelona's rout was completed when Messi played a one-two with Aleix Vidal and tucked home in the 87th minute past the despairing Dmitrovic.

Paulinho and Denis Suarez also netted for the second consecutive game as Sergi Enrich claimed a consolation goal for Eibar.

"Messi makes everything easy, he's the best in the world, nobody has any doubt of that. I hope we can have him for a lot of time," said Denis Suarez.

Despite losing Neymar in the summer to Paris Saint-Germain, suffering frustration in the transfer market and seeing president Josep Maria Bartomeu's reign questioned, Messi's virtuoso displays have kept Barcelona top of the table with a 100 per cent record after five games.

And for the icing on the cake, Messi also leads the top scorer charts with nine goals.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 21, 2017, with the headline 'Valverde: Four-midable Messi performance isn't news any more'. Subscribe