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Barça’s starting XI at Mendizorroza had a slightly different look to normal, with Lionel Messi, Jordi Alba, Clément Lenglet and Arthur all on the bench. There was no difference on the pitch, however, as the visitors began dictating possession from the first minute.
Before six minutes had been played Luis Suárez and Philippe Coutinho had two presentable chances, and all of the football was being played in Alavés’ half of the pitch. The hosts sporadically managed to break into Barça territory, but invariably the ball kept coming straight back.
Coutinho was involved again on 22, his shot on target saved by the keeper. Along with Ousmane Dembélé, the Brazilian kept taking the game to opponents who looked to come more into the game as the half drew to a close.
The second-half began in much the same way as the first with Barça on the front foot. On 53, some incisive play saw the blaugrana take the lead through Carles Aleñá, after a wonderful dummy from Suárez.
Gerard Piqué looked to have given Barça a second on the hour, but after a VAR review the visitors were instead awarded a penalty. With Messi yet to enter the field of play, it was left to Suárez to give the blaugrana some breathing space.
Messi would come on immediately afterwards for Dembélé, and within 10 minutes only the post had denied the No.10 from adding his name to the scoresheet.
The hosts ran out of energy towards the end of the match, and it meant that Barça were comfortable in the final 10 minutes. Aleñá and Semedo were replaced late on by Alba and Arthur as Ernesto Valverde had the luxury of being able to rotate his squad at a vital point in the season.
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