Ernesto Valverde hailed Lionel Messi’s ‘perfect’ chemistry with Jordi Alba after they helped Barcelona beat Celta Vigo 2-0 on Saturday.
Alba teed up Messi for Barca’s opening goal against Celta, and Valverde made it clear the pair’s link-up play was crucial to the club’s hopes of a successful season.
“Other matches have left me happier because we were sloppy in the second half and didn’t play enough forward passes,” the Coach said after the game.
“In the first half, we broke their defensive line and got in behind. We can easily exploit space and that’s how our goals came about.
“Celta have some important attackers. They play good football and can hurt you, especially on the counterattack.
“We weren’t great in the second half, although we didn’t suffer that much. Arturo [Vidal] gets involved, offers us alternatives in his role and had a meaningful game.
“The season is long and we’ll see how things go. He’ll give us energy and many other things. Nelson [Semedo] brings us many things defensively.
“He’s different to Sergi Roberto in a positional sense, but he has confidence in his ability, takes the ball into space very quickly and is great at one-on-ones.
“Messi and Alba have been working together for a long time, and they understand each other perfectly.
“Jordi has his ‘timing’ and he’s difficult to stop because he can surprise you. If he’s stopped then someone else passes to Leo. We hope they keep linking up.
“Coutinho will play a lot of games. When Coutinho played, the questions were about Dembele and now it’s going the other way.
“I prefer what I saw in the first half, when we had the ball and hurt them. Keeping clean sheets is the easiest way to win because one goal is enough, but it’s not our objective to do that.
“We want to pose danger, like we did in the first half. As for 2019 I’ll say that if we win, the coaches are calm and so are our surroundings.
“I’d say that the fans have been happy with us, so I ask the team to keep winning next year.”