Watch: Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde reacts to 2-0 win over Alaves

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Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde does not expect Atletico Madrid to hand the title to them by losing to Valencia on Wednesday.

A 2-0 win over Alaves, courtesy of second-half goals from Carles Alena and Luis Suarez, means the Catalans are just one victory away from retaining their La Liga title.

However, should second-placed Atletico lose to visitors Valencia, in fifth and pushing for a Champions League place, then the championship will be Barca’s with four matches to spare.

“Atletico is a competitor that shows every day how they do it. We’ll see. I do not see Atletico relaxing,” said Valverde.


“We count on that we will need the three points (at home to Levante).








“We are at the peak of the season and the victory (over Alaves) is worth its weight in gold.


“There have been changes and the team has been good, we have achieved three points that put us very close to the title.


“We’ve been fighting for that for many months. We are nearing the end. It’s a great joy to be in this situation.”


Watch the video above to hear more from reaction the Barcelona boss.




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Luis Suarez decisive despite average performance in Barcelona's win over Alaves

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Barcelona edged ever so close to yet another La Liga title after comfortably getting past Alaves. Goals from Carles Alena and Luis Suarez in the second half were enough to bag all three points at the Mendizorroza.

The result means the Catalans could be crowned champions as early as Wednesday night, depending on whether Atletico Madrid are defeated by Valencia.

Ernesto Valverde benched Lionel Messi but Suarez ensured that there was no shortage of leadership in the front, as he helped the Spanish giants to a crucial win.

We take a deeper look at Suarez’s performance.

KEY-STATS

Minutes: 90

Goals: 1

Assists: 0

Shots (On target): 3 (3)

Passes (Success rate): 26 (81%)

Dribbles: 1

Key-passes: 1

Dispossessed: 1

30-SECOND REPORT

The shortest summary of Suarez’s performance would be that he had a very Suarez performance. The Uruguayan started slow, missed a couple of easy chances but eventually got on the score-sheet to glorify an otherwise average show.

As always, his positioning and link-up play – apart from a few terribly misplaced passes – helped Barcelona build up to the final third in a neat way. But the Uruguayan never seemed to get it right in the final third.

Eventually Suarez slotted home a perfectly taken penalty and scored Barcelona’s insurance goal.

GOT RIGHT – Positional awareness

It’s worth noting that this ‘typical Suarez performance’ saw a typical Suarez moment when the forward dummied Sergi Roberto’s pass to Alena to provide enough space for the youngster by dragging two defenders with him.

Minor movements like these which usually go unnoticed deserve as much plaudits as the pass that led to the goal and the Uruguayan deserves the credit for helping Barcelona break the deadlock.

GOT WRONG – Conversion

Suarez has been far from his best in terms of conversion in the past few months but calling out his shortcomings in front of goal in this game wouldn’t be right. The Uruguayan got the job done against Alaves but if one were to nitpick, the conversion factor does pop up as the area begging for improvement.

Barcelona could have been ahead in the opening stages of the game had he converted two great chances created by Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele.

Luis Suarez.

Luis Suarez.

VERDICT

Whether he does it by latching onto one pass out of every 10 provided by Messi in the final third or by slotting home a penalty after an average performance, Suarez has kept his meter ticking in the goal-scoring charts.

While this was certainly not one of his better performances, the Uruguayan did play a part in both the goals and helped the Catalans secure three important points.

Credit when due, the forward did a great job leading the line in the absence of Messi and getting the job done via personal intervention.

Although, he does need to work on converting his chances, especially with a massive Champions League fixture looming next week.

RATING: 7/10

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Barcelona player ratings as impressive Carles Alena earns an 8 during 2-0 win over Alaves

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Lionel Messi started on the bench for Barcelona but goals from Carles Alena and Luis Suarez meant no rescue act was required at Deportivo Alaves on Tuesday night.

It wasn’t a vintage Barca display but Alena struck in the 54th minute before Suarez converted from the spot six minutes later to seal the victory as the Catalans got three points closer to winning the La Liga title.

The visitors’ second goal was initially ruled offside but a VAR review, the referee pointed to the spot for a handball by Tomas Pina.

Messi did take to the pitch just past the hour mark but the job was done by then and it proved to be little more than a run out for the Argentine superstar.

The result means Barca will be crowned champions if they win their next game at home to Levante or even before that should Valencia take points off second-placed Atletico Madrid.

Here, we rate the performances of the Barcelona players.

STARTING XI (4-3-3)

Marc-Andre ter Stegen – A couple of routine saves to make but never really broke a sweat. 6

Nelson Semedo – Good on the ball and got forward often enough but didn’t threaten with his delivery. 5

Gerard Pique – Apart from one poor challenge on Jony, he was solid at the back. Played out from the back well.

Samuel Umtiti – Struggled with his tackles, failing to register a successful one and fouling three times instead. 4

Sergi Roberto – Picked up the assist for the opener and produced good delivery. Much better on the right side. 7

Arturo Vidal – Good energy and added steel in midfield, winning his share of tackles. 7

Sergio Busquets – A sloppy pass early on but reverted to the composed, reliable anchorman we know him to be soon enough. 6

Carles Alena – Looked sharp and was heavily involved in Barca’s play. Took his goal well after a fine run to get into position. 8

Ousmane Dembele – A quite performance by his standards. Beat a few players but never threatened, taking no shots. 6

Luis Suarez – Far from his best again and never really looked like scoring. Was fortunate to net from the spot with the keeper getting a hand to it. 6

Philippe Coutinho – A couple of neat touches and turns but he’ll need to show more if he wants to start against former side Liverpool in the Champions League. 6

SUBS

Lionel Messi (61′) – It’s amazing how he can tread onto a pitch and immediately raise the level of his side. A few good dribbles and even forced a nice save.

Jordi Alba (70′) – Came on for Semedo and ventured forward often. 6

Arthur (87′) – N/A

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