Barcelona star Philippe Coutinho praises 'incredible' Lionel Messi

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Barcelona attacker Philippe Coutinho has praised his new teammate Lionel Messi after his outstanding form for the La Liga giants this season.

Messi has enjoyed another scintillating campaign with the Camp Nou club, scoring 27 goals in 34 in all competitions.

Coutinho, a €160million arrival from Liverpool last month, says it is ‘incredible’ to step out at training and see the 30-year-old improving every day.

“It seems incredible, but every day Messi gets better, and as a team-mate I can only take advantage of my moments with him,” the Brazil international told 8TV .

“I’ve learned a lot from everyone and I’ve tried to take advantage of everything they taught me.”

The Brazilian is still settling into life at Barcelona, making four appearances for the club since returning from a thigh injury upon his arrival.

Barcelona are currently leading La Liga, nine points ahead of Atletico Madrid and 18 points ahead of third-place Valencia.

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Ernesto Valverde pleased with Barcelona's point at Espanyol in challenging conditions

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Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde aimed criticism at a sodden pitch as Gerard Pique scored a late header to salvage a draw for runaway La Liga leaders Barcelona at city rivals Espanyol, keeping their bid for an unbeaten campaign on track.

Valverde’s men were in danger of falling to their first league defeat of the season when Gerard Moreno nodded the hosts ahead midway through the second half, but centre-back Pique met a Lionel Messi corner in the 82nd minute to snatch a point.

Barcelona are now 12 points clear at the top of the table from Atletico Madrid, who host third-placed Valencia later on Sunday.

The match was played in pouring rain and Valverde slammed the “dangerous” pitch.

“Even though it was raining, we thought that the pitch would hold, but then we saw that the grass was not going to hold up and that the pitch was becoming dangerous,” the Barcelona coach said.

“On our passes from defence the ball could get stuck in a puddle and that’s why things got difficult.

“We give a lot of value to this draw, because it was hard to get because of this scenario and because it’s a derby and we didn’t want to lose.”

The five-time European champions also set a new club record of 22 matches unbeaten to start a league season on Sunday, and are still in the hunt for a La Liga, Copa del Rey and Champions League treble.

“We are still up there (top of the table). The conditions for them and for us were not the best, but it was an entertaining game,” Barca captain Andres Iniesta told BeIn Sports.

They were far from at their fluent best against a stubborn Espanyol whose point drags them eight clear of the relegation zone, although Philippe Coutinho came close to scoring his first goal since joining from Liverpool last month when he struck the crossbar in the first half.

Faltering champions Real Madrid are 19 points adrift of arch rivals Barca in fourth, after throwing away two points in a 2-2 draw at Levante on Saturday.

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Deportivo La Coruna sack coach Cristobal Parralo

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Deportivo La Coruna sacked their coach Cristobal Parralo on Sunday with the club rooted in the relegation zone on the back of a poor run of results.

After a 5-0 thrashing at Real Sociedad on Friday the Liga club’s directors decided to swing the axe on Parralo’s short reign even though he only took over from Pepe Mel in November.

The defeat at San Sebastian, just along Spain’s northern coast from the Galician port of La Coruna, was a seventh game without a win for Deportivo.

The club have been in decline for the past decade after a mini golden era when they won the Spanish league in 2000 and the cup in 2001 with Dutch striker Roy Makaay as spearhead and iconic Brazilian centre-back Mauro Silva as captain.

Provided by AFP Sport

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