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Five talking points from Barcelona’s win over Girona

Barcelona v Girona - La Liga Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Yet another Messi masterclass

This was one of those Lionel Messi’s performances when he is absolutely unstoppable. He was unlucky not to score with a dink over the goalkeeper that was cleared off the line, set up Luis Suarez for the equaliser, put Barcelona ahead and then casually fired a free kick underneath the wall for his second.

The goals not only ensured Barca would win, but also mean he is now La Liga’s record assist-maker, has scored against more La Liga teams than any other player and is quite comfortably the best football player on this planet.

The game was Barca’s biggest attendance of the season, as 85,417 packed out Camp Nou – and Messi served them all up an absolute treat.

Barcelona remember how to score in the first half

Barcelona v Girona - La Liga Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

A curious feature of Barcelona’s season has been a lack of first-half goals and the team have looking far stronger after the break, but not on Saturday.

Whether it was Girona’s early goal, Ernesto Valverde’s attacking lineup, or Messi’s brilliance – the team hit four goals in the first half to have the game wrapped up at half-time.

That allowed Valverde to make changes after the break and rest some players. Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic were all given a breather with the three points already safely in the bag.

Dembele makes a difference

Barcelona v Girona - La Liga Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

We’ve all been waiting for Ousmane Dembele to show what we can do at Barcelona and it was great to see him in the starting line-up against Girona.

The youngster visibly grew in confidence during the game and ended up with an assist as he set up Luis Suarez to complete his hat-trick.

This game offered a glimpse of the future with an attack of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Ousmane Dembele and Philippe Coutinho all featuring, and it sure looks exciting.

Barcelona give Valverde a selection headache

Valencia v Barcelona - Copa del Rey Semi Final Second Leg Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele started together for the first time and unsurprisingly Barcelona looked a different team going forward.

Coutinho curled home a superb goal, Dembele looked bright and added an extra dimension to the attack as Barcelona romped to victory.

The question now is whether Valverde will continue with a more adventurous team, or revert back to a more conservative approach in the coming games.

We’ll find out on Thursday as Barcelona head to Las Palmas, before the crucial game against Atletico Madrid at Camp Nou on Sunday.

Why play Gerard Pique?

Valencia v Barcelona - Copa del Rey Semi Final Second Leg

It was a bit of a surprise to see Gerard Pique in the starting line-up, and the strapping on his knee revealed he is carrying an injury at the moment.

The centre-back also went down clutching the same knee and looking in real agony at the start of the second half, with Thomas Vermaelen out quickly to warm up.

Pique soldiered on until the hour mark when Vermaelen finally replaced him, but you have to wonder why he started the game and whether he has made the problem worse.

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