Barcelona grind out victory in Eibar before Chelsea trip

Antonio Conte

If they take three points on Saturday, it will be a big stride towards the title. They'll be back in action on Tuesday when they face Chelsea in the last 16 of the Champions League.

Seventh-placed Eibar have lost only once in 10 league games, and thrashed Sevilla 5-1 in their last home fixture.

Luis Suarez and Jordi Alba were on target as Barcelona saw off Eibar 2-0 on Saturday to continue their unbeaten record in La Liga and extend their lead at the top of the table. The turnaround by the club has been remarkable after it looked like they would be a relegation candidate after picking up eight points in their first 11 games.

Messi picked the ball up on the half-way line, danced into the opponents half, then delivered a pin-point defence-splitting pass to send through teammate Luis Suarez.

Record-signing Phillipe Coutinho replaced the legendary Andres Iniesta in the 62nd minute, with the latter receiving a standing ovation.

The bottom line is that this Barcelona side is also extraordinarily good under Ernesto Valverde.

Barcelona warmed up for their Champions League test next week by getting past Eibar on Saturday. Dembele has had bad luck with injuries and Coutinho is only just getting started, having joined in a club-record €160m deal from Liverpool in January.

BARCELONA are without a win in their last two La Liga outings and Atletico Madrid are hot on their trail.

American Mikaela Shiffrin has another event postponed as weather halts skiing
According to Matt Renoux, our reporter in PyeongChang , it was windy and snowing shortly before the delayed start time . Next few days will be important", he said. "Neither of those were achievable today".

Barca were looking to kill off the game early on in the second period, after Suarez met a delivery from Messi at the back-post, but he could only find the side-netting.

Respite arrived courtesy of Suarez's well-taken 16th-minute goal, which was beautifully created by Lionel Messi's left boot.

Suarez's goal came against the flow of the match.

Within another three minutes, Eibar was down a manager as well as a man on the pitch.

They are provisionally fifth, three points behind Real Madrid in fourth but having played two games more. Five of those victories were 1-0, including each of the last two.

Even after Orellana's red card, Eibar still posed a threat.

However, with the gap at the top down to seven points and Barcelona having to contend with Champions League knockout football and a Copa final later in the season, it could be that Los Rojiblancos have half a chance of applying major pressure. They were expected to fight near the bottom of the standings this year, but they have stunned the world time and time again, and now sit in seventh place in the standings with 35 points.

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