Barca extend Liga lead before Clasico by thrashing Deportivo
BARCELONA (Reuters) – Barcelona moved six points clear at the top of La Liga by easing to a 4-0 win at home to Deportivo La Coruna on Sunday with doubles from Luis Suarez and Paulinho ahead of next week’s ‘Clasico’ against champions Real Madrid.
Suarez slotted a generous cutback from Lionel Messi into an open goal in the 29th minute to deservedly put Barca ahead, while Brazil international Paulinho got the second in the 41st, tapping in on the rebound after Messi had hit the post.
Messi had a frustrating night in front of goal and was unable to add to his 14 league goals this season as he hit the woodwork three times and had a penalty saved by former youth team mate Ruben Martinez with the score at 3-0.
Suarez then scored his fourth goal in three league games by firing home a Sergi Roberto cross inside the area two minutes into the second half and Paulinho completed the rout in the 75th, pouncing after Jordi Alba’s shot had come off the post.
Barca lead the standings on 42 points, six ahead of Atletico Madrid and eight in front of third-placed Valencia.
They are 11 clear of Real, who have a game in hand after missing this weekend’s action due to playing in the Club World Cup, where they beat Brazilians Gremio 1-0 in Saturday’s final.
“We go into next week’s game (against Real) feeling very happy and the best way to prepare for a game of that level is to win and feel confident and we are feeling great,” Barca coach Ernesto Valverde told reporters.
“It’s a very difficult game against a huge rival and we are very excited about playing it. I don’t think a win (against Real) would assure us of the title because Atletico are six points behind. What is clear is that seasons are very long and no-one wins the title at this stage.”
Barca forward Paco Alcacer went off injured in the first half and will miss the ‘Clasico’ after being ruled out for three weeks.
La Liga’s lack of goal-line technology or a video assistant referee (VAR) came under the spotlight again near the end of the first half when Suarez’s stylish ‘rabona’ shot from close range appeared to cross the goal-line before Martinez punched it away.
The Catalans were denied a goal three weeks ago when Messi’s shot in a 1-1 draw with Valencia clearly crossed the goal-line.