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Philippe Coutinho "learning gradually" at Barcelona

Philippe Coutinho

Luis Suarez scored a hat-trick as a star-studded Barcelona line up thrashed Girona 6-1 at the Nou Camp on Saturday night.

The absence of a first clash right-back last season following the departure of Dani Alves was Barcelona's undoing last season - with Sergi Roberto often forced to slot in.

It was the first time Barcelona has started with Messi, Suarez, Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele on the pitch as they demonstrated just how devastating they can be in attack.

Barcelona enter this fixture seven points clear of Atletico Madrid, who occupy second place in the table, with Ernesto Valverde looking to at least maintain that gap if not extend it against a Girona side who are a very healthy eighth in the table.

As if there was any doubt about Messi's quality, this reminded us all of just how good the Argentine is.

Valverde believes the title race is entering a crucial moment with 13 games of the La Liga season left to play. Inches away from being the flawless finish from Messi. With the Girona defenders packed in front of him, there appeared to be no way for the Argentinian to play the ball forward, but Messi found space to slide the ball forward for Suarez to shoot home a low finish. He nearly scored with a dipping shot after 18 minutes but his effort was headed off the line by Bernardo. Girona dropped their last La Liga match with a 1-0 loss to Sevilla. The player was attended to by Doctor Ricard Pruna, before hobbling back to the changing rooms. According to our predictions, Barcelona will win today by 4-0. Eventually, Luis Suarez netted a hattrick, Lionel Messi scored a brace and Philippe Coutinho scored his trademark long-range goal. Ronaldo, whose first goal was created by a magnificent Benzema flick, stood aside in the 89th minute to allow the Frenchman to convert only his fourth league goal of the season.

The fifth goal arrived in the 66th minute as Coutinho worked some space outside the box before curling a fine effort into the back of the net.

Bono finally bested Messi by tipping his latest free-kick away from the top corner and touched a late header from substitute Thomas Vermaelan on to the bar.

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