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Barcelona boss highlights reason why Chelsea have upper hand in CL tie

Barcelona boss highlights reason why Chelsea have upper hand in CL tie

Lionel Messi had a hand in both goals against an Eibar side who finished the match at tiny Ipurua with 10 men after the second-half sending-off of Fabian Orellana.

Barcelona - who match their unbeaten run from 2010-11 under Pep Guardiola - are now 10 points above Atletico Madrid, who host Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.

Barca face in-form Eibar at Ipurua on Saturday looking to continue their unbeaten record in La Liga this season and consolidate their lead at the top of the table, which is now seven points over Atletico Madrid.

The past two weekends have seen FC Barcelona cede four points in the battle for the Liga Santander title and in matchday 24 the Catalans face one of their most hard away games between now and the end of the campaign. Eibar has won five of its past eight games, meaning José Luis Mendilibar's team heads into Saturday's game in great form. Iniesta has a substitute for these kinds of situations with Phillipe Coutinho signed in January for this very case. Dembele has had awful luck with injuries and Coutinho is only just getting started, having joined in a club-record €160m deal from Liverpool in January.

The Barcelona boss though, has iterated in his pre-match press conference that he only has his eyes on Saturday's game against Eibar for now while also adding that a week long rest - for the first time in 2018 - has helped his squad immensely. In the second half we struggled, we weren't able to get close to their area, but it was easier when they went down to 10 men.

Suarez was forced wide on the left by the busy Eibar keeper and pulled the ball back to Messi, but the Argentina forward saw his angled shot strike the post.

You have to go back to April 2017 to find Barca's last loss in the Spanish top flight, a 2-0 reverse at Malaga which ultimately cost them the title. Behind the back-four, Marc-Andre ter Stegen should once again be the one to guard the Barcelona goal.

Eibar almost grabbed an early lead in the second minute after Ruben Pena picked out Jose Angel with a cross from the left wing but the latter's header sailed over the bar. Las Palmas remain in the relegation zone. The league looks wrapped up, while they're also through to the Copa del Rey final, where they face Sevilla in April.

They are provisionally fifth, three points behind Real Madrid in fourth but having played two games more.

Valverde, who has Thomas Vermaelen back in training again, believes the fact that Chelsea were due to play their FA Cup tie against Hull City on Friday night gives them an advantage ahead of the Champions League last 16, first leg in London.

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