Lionel Messi masterclass, Philippe Coutinho impresses as Barcelona stroll to 3-0 Man United win

Andy West 17/04/2019
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Barcelona advanced to the Champions League semi-final by surviving an early scare to claim a 3-0 victory (4-0 on aggregate) over Manchester United at the Camp Nou.

You-know-who was the star with the first two goals, one of which was aided by a disastrous defensive clanger.

Find out how all the players rated here:

Ter Stegen 7. Made a couple of routine saves from Rashford and Pogba and a superb late reflex stop to deny Sanchez.

Roberto 6. Struggled early against Martial’s pace, but recovered and was denied a goal by a great save from De Gea.

Pique 7. Composed against his former club, easily containing Lingard although less comfortable against sub Lukaku.

Lenglet 6. Sloppy start but soon regained his usual solidity in the centre of defence as United’s threat was soon quashed.

Alba 7. Energetic and incisive down the left, always available to get forward in support of Coutinho and linking play well.

Rakitic 7. Gave Barca strength in midfield after their poor start with his usual discipline. Came close with a flicked header.

Busquets 7. Struggled against United’s fast start, but soon responded to deliver a fine display on and off the ball.

Arthur 7. Conducted the orchestra with a slick display of passing, helping control the midfield and dictate the tempo.

Messi 9. Glorious strike for the opener, got lucky for the second, and was magnificent throughout. Unique and unrepeatable.

Suarez 5. Somewhat off the pace with some poor touches in link-up play, and rarely had a sniff of goal but worked hard. Night summed up by petulant yellow.

Coutinho 8. Did really well on the left flank, knitting play together and offering penetration including a magnificent goal.

SUBS

Semedo 6. Replaced Roberto at right-back for the final 20 minutes and was steady as the action wound down.

Vidal 6. Came on for Arthur with the game won at 3-0, and was a whirlwind of energy in the latter stages.

Dembele 6. Given a chance to regain match sharpness in the final ten minutes, but had little chance to impress.

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Barcelona president believes Ousmane Dembele is an upgrade on Neymar

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Josep Bartomeu

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu is adamant that Philippe Coutinho will not be leaving the Camp Nou this summer despite rumoured interest from Manchester United and Chelsea.

Coutinho joined Barca from Liverpool for £142million in January last year but the 26-year-old has not had the same kind of impact as he had during his time with the Reds, resulting in speculation of a move away.

Bartomeu, however, has made it clear Coutinho is part of manager Ernesto Valverde’s plans – unless a club triggers the midfielder’s release clause, rumoured to be a staggering £355million.

Speaking to Spanish television station TVE, Bartomeu said: “Coutinho is an excellent player and he has the coach’s confidence.

“He has a contract with us and he will remain at the team, unless they (another club) meet his release clause.”

Ousmane Dembele

Ousmane Dembele is an upgrade on Neymar, according to Bartomeu.

Bartomeu has also rejected suggestions his club will move to bring Neymar back to the Camp Nou less than two years after he joined Paris Saint-Germain for a world record fee of £200million.

Barca used the money to purchase Ousmane Dembele from Borussia Dortmund, with Bartomeu hailing the forward.

Bartomeu added: “It’s not possible for Neymar to come to Barcelona as we have another sporting project with Dembele and Coutinho. We are happy with what we have.

“Dembele is a good professional player. He is a young guy who arrived at a huge club and that’s not easy, but he has adapted and he is much better than Neymar.”

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Former Barcelona star David Villa hails 'greatest of all time' Lionel Messi

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Former Barcelona star David Villa claimed that Lionel Messi is the greatest player of all time.

Barcelona currently have an nine-point lead in La Liga over Atletico Madrid and are well primed to qualify for the Champions League semi-finals. They face Manchester United on Tuesday in the quarter-final second leg, holding a slender 1-0 win advantage.

Messi has been central to Barcelona’s success, scoring 43 goals across all competitions and proving the side’s talisman time and again.

He will turn 32 in June but Villa, who played alongside the Argentine forward at Barcelona from 2010 to 2013, does not see him slowing down.

“Leo Messi is the greatest player of all time,” Villa said in an interview with Reuters.

“Barcelona owes its success to his evolution: a direct style of passing play based on possession.”

Villa did admit that he did not have the chance to watch the likes of Pele, Diego Maradona and Johan Cruyff, but having watched Messi in every game, the Spaniard believes the five-time Ballon d’Or winner is the best.

“Obviously with the likes of Pele, Diego Maradona and Johan Cruyff, I didn’t have the chance to watch them like I used to see Messi every day, in every game,” he added.

“But, in my opinion, Messi’s the best.”

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