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Five things we learned from Barcelona’s win over Alaves

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A good start to the season

FC Barcelona v Deportivo Alaves - La Liga Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Messi is in the mood

After a difficult World Cup new Barcelona captain Lionel Messi was back to his best at the Camp Nou. Put simply, he won the match for the hosts.

He scored twice, hit the woodwork twice and was the best player on the pitch by quite some distance.

Ernesto Valverde described him as a genuis after the match, Sergio Busquets called his free kick a “work of art” - and we all realised just how much we’ve missed watching him play football.

Coutinho is a must

FC Barcelona v Deportivo Alaves - La Liga Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Valverde’s decision to leave Coutinho on the bench was a bit of a surprise, and he’s explained it was largely because of the World Cup.

It didn’t really work either as the midfield looked pretty stodgy in the first half and Roberto offered little.

Coutinho arrived at the break and Barcelona looked far more dangerous in the second half.

The new No. 7 scored a fine goal to secure the points and will not expect to find himself on the bench too many more times this season.

Barcelona’s bench is full of options

Talking of the bench, Barcelona’s was packed full of strength after a summer of investment in the squad.

Valverde’s substitutes on Saturday were Cillessen, Coutinho, Arthur, Rafinha, Malcom, Lenglet and Arturo Vidal.

Compare that to last season’s opener against Real Betis when the bench was: Cillessen, Pique, Denis Suarez, Arda Turan, Digne, Gomes and Aleix Vidal.

It’s a massive upgrade and another reason for optimism ahead of the new season.

Ter Stegen is too cool

Marc-Andre ter Stegen is not just a wonderful goalkeeper, he’s also a fine footballer as he showed once again on Saturday.

An Alaves attack saw Jony racing onto a through-ball which would have put him through on goal.

Ter Stegen was having absolutely none of it though. The German sprinted out of his goal, reached the ball first, casually dinked it over his head and then played it out wide to Sergi Roberto. So good.

Surarez remains a worry

Luis Suarez continued his slow start to the season. Once again his touch was poor, he looked sluggish and well off the pace.

He did manage to set up Messi’s third goal but otherwise was Barcelona’s weak link on what was his 200th outing for the club.

Valverde defended Suarez in midweek saying that he “looks good” but the Uruguayan needs to find some form quickly.