‘It helps us’: Barca equal insane record in CL test run
LUIS Suarez and Jordi Alba were on target as Barcelona saw off Eibar 2-0 on Saturday to continue their unbeaten record in La Liga and extend their lead at the top of the table.
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.
It was not a comfortable afternoon for Ernesto Valverde's men in the rain in the Basque Country, but Barca are still unbeaten 24 games into the league campaign, and have now gone 31 La Liga matches undefeated in total to match their record run under Pep Guardiola in 2010/11.
They are 10 points clear at the top, although Atletico Madrid can trim that lead when they host Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.
Barcelona will now turn their thoughts to the Champions League last 16, first leg against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday, and Valverde said Eibar were ideal opponents ahead of that match.
"Eibar always put you under a lot of pressure, so it was a good test. We really suffered, because they are in great form," said Valverde.
"It was a very difficult match just as we expected, and we will try and make sure it helps us, although the Champions League is another competition altogether." Valverde sent out a strong team, choosing to start Andres Iniesta and leave Philippe Coutinho on the bench, despite the Brazilian being ineligible for the Champions League. Coutinho replaced Iniesta for the final half-hour.
"Last week Coutinho started, and this week it was Iniesta," Valverde added. "It is true that we have another match on Tuesday, but for me the important thing was today (Saturday)." Barca went ahead in the 16th minute, Messi's superb pass releasing Suarez, who rounded goalkeeper Marco Dmitrovic to score.
The visitors had a couple of let-offs in the first half, with Sergio Busquets lucky not to concede a penalty as he pulled back Kike Garcia in the box. Orellana then hit the bar with a fine strike.
However, the Chilean was sent off midway through the second half and Barca took advantage of the extra man in the 88th minute. Messi, who hit the post in the first half, was denied by Dmitrovic, but the ball fell for Alba to score.