Barcelona defender Thomas Vermaelen out for two weeks with hamstring injury

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Barcelona defender Thomas Vermaelen will be out for a fortnight with the hamstring injury that forced him off in the first half in Sunday’s win at Betis, the club said on Monday.

Vermaelen pulled up having hurt his left hamstring and had to come off four minutes before half-time, with Samuel Umtiti taking his place as Barcelona went on to win 5-0.

Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi both scored twice after Ivan Rakitic put the Catalans ahead, allowing Ernesto Valverde’s side to move 11 points clear of Atletico Madrid at the top of La Liga.

Barcelona host Espanyol on Thursday in the second leg of their Copa del Rey quarter-final looking to overturn a 1-0 first-leg deficit.

Provided by AFP Sport

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Barcelona player ratings as Luis Suarez nets a 9 and Ivan Rakitic shines in midfield during thrashing of Real Betis

Andy West 22/01/2018
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Suarez was instrumental in the victory on Sunday night.

Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez produced a finishing masterclass as Barcelona launched a second-half blitz at Real Betis to extend their lead at the top of the LaLiga table to 11 points.

Ivan Rakitic started the ball rolling as the hour-mark approached while Messi and Suarez joined him on the scoresheet within the next 10 minutes.

The Argentina international saved his best for the last 10 minutes, adding a superb individual effort and then setting up Suarez for his second in similar fashion to help Barca claim a sixth successive league win courtesy of a 5-0 romp.

Here are the ratings:

Marc-Andre ter Stegen: Had little to do but did it with assurance, and used the ball with his feet more than usual. 6

Nelson Semedo: Occasionally conceded too much space down his flank by getting out of position, and still doesn’t look quite the answer at right-back. Plenty of attacking intent but the other side of his game looks lacking. 6

Gerard Pique: Imperious in defence, mopping up everything Betis threw at him around the edge of the box, and outstanding in possession, always choosing the right pass to keep his team moving. 8

Thomas Vermaelen: Performed solidly enough until his injury jinx struck again, pulling up with a hamstring strain towards the end of the first-half. 6

Jordi Alba: Bundle of energy down the left wing but less of an attacking threat than usual in recent weeks. Still perfectly solid though. 7

Sergi Roberto: Excellent. Started on the right of midfield but soon moved more centrally and had Barca’s first chance by striding forward to shoot over. Continued to take the game to Betis, showing greater confidence in his playmaking skills, and is maturing into an outstanding performer. 8

Sergio Busquets: Kept quiet by the attentions of Joaquin for the first 50 minutes, but he gradually became a stronger presence and did brilliantly to win the ball and release Messi for the decisive second goal which effectively broke the game. 7

Ivan Rakitic: Fine all-round performance. Did a good job defensively, regularly breaking up dangerous Betis attacks early on, and later on showed attacking threat by sending a long-range shot too close to Adan before later storming forward to net the opener. Also delivered an excellent cross for Suarez’s goal. 8

Andre Gomes: A regular outlet in midfield, showing his class with some smooth touches. Didn’t always use the ball well but seems to be finally finding his form and growing in confidence. Replaced by Paulinho after the second goal. 6

Lionel Messi: Well shackled early on but grew into the game and showed his increasing influence by shooting into the side-netting after 30 minutes. Settled the outcome with a crunching finish before adding a brilliant second, and then rounded off a stunning second-half with a glorious assist for Suarez. At times it looks like he’s playing an entirely different sport to everyone else. 8

Luis Suarez: Brilliant demonstration of centre forward play. Turned assister for Barca’s first two chances with nice passes to Roberto and Messi. Continued that role by delivering an excellent through ball for Rakitic’s opener, before netting himself with a fine volley and completing the scoring with a crunching finish. 9

Barcelona's Argentinian forward Lionel Messi (R) challenges Real Betis' Moroccan defender Zou (L) during the Spanish league football match between Real Betis and FC Barcelona at the Benito Villamarin stadium in Sevilla on January 21, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / CRISTINA QUICLER (Photo credit should read CRISTINA QUICLER/AFP/Getty Images)

Messi netted a brace at the Benito Villamarin stadium.

SUBSTITUTES:

Samuel Umtiti: Came on for Vermaelen just before the break, returning to action after six weeks out, and looked like he’d never been away. Solid and serious. 7

Paulinho: Came on at the perfect time after Barca went two-up, and he had an easy task in overpowering a desperately tiring home team midfield. 7

Gerard Deulofeu: Appeared for the final ten minutes and had little impact. Maybe his last game for the club? 6

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Watch: Philippe Coutinho's first training session with Barcelona team mates

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Barcelona‘s record signing ever, from Liverpool, Philippe Coutinho, on Saturday trained with his new team mates for the first time.

The Brazilian sustains a thigh injury and is still not match fit as Barca named their squad for the trip to Andalusia.

The La Liga leaders will face Real Betis on Sunday, although Coutinho will not travel with the squad.

He will be staying at home along with injured team mates Ousmane Dembele, Andres Iniesta, Paco Alcacer and Javier Mascherano.

Coutinho could make his debut for the Catalan club in next week’s Copa Del Rey clash against Espanyol at home.

The video below shows glimpses from the training session.

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