Messi secures Barcelona win on Coutinho debut

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"The truth is that we have good players who play in the interior role, but Iniesta is a master at that", said Barca's coach after guiding his side to a record-equalling 21-game unbeaten start to the top-flight campaign.

Lionel Messi scored a stunning late free-kick as Barcelona came from behind to beat Alaves and maintain their unbeaten start to LaLiga. "I think it's involuntary, but each one can see it from their point of view". I thought he could help us from there.

Barca have had decisions go against them this season, including a clear Messi goal not given at Valencia in November, and Valverde made reference to that as he continued his defence of Umtiti. "There are always controversies - sometimes they hurt you and sometimes they help you".

Overall, though, Valverde was relieved to pick up the three points after spending nearly 50 minutes behind chasing the Basque side.

Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde has warned his side not to rest on their laurels ahead of Sunday's clash with a "revitalised" Alaves at the Nou Camp.

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"We just played a really tense game on Thursday [against Espanyol] and are straight back at it tonight. I have the feeling that we have dodged a bullet".

"Yes no doubts about it - it's a hard period of time in the season", the Spaniard said.

Alaves were the only team to win at the Nou Camp in the league last season and looked set to overshadow Philippe Coutinho's first start for Barca when Sweden striker John Guidetti gave them a shock lead in the 23rd minute, falling over as he lashed the ball past Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

With Diego Costa out injured, Atletico took a while to get going and had to wait until the 61st minute to open the scoring, Antoine Griezmann latching on to Juanfran's fine ball down the right flank before dinking neatly over Las Palmas stopper Leandro Chichizola. He has a lot of good qualities. "He has important skills, the other day he played 20 minutes, today he played a little more, he's growing into the team little by little".

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