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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 23 February 2019

Barcelona target Copa del Rey success after Lionel Messi sinks Girona

La Liga leaders prevail 2-0 on Sunday for their eighth successive league victory

Lionel Messi, left, celebrates with Jordi Alba after scoring in the victory over Girona. AFP
Lionel Messi, left, celebrates with Jordi Alba after scoring in the victory over Girona. AFP

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde immediately turned his attention to Wednesday's vital Copa del Rey quarter-final after his side recorded an eighth successive LaLiga victory.

The leaders restored their five-point advantage at the top with a 2-0 win over Girona on Sunday after Nelson Semedo's first goal for the club was followed by Lionel Messi's 19th league strike of the season.

The winning run is the best under Valverde's management, but the Barca boss is already thinking about overturning a 2-0 deficit in the second leg of their cup tie at home to Sevilla in midweek.

"Today's match was key because it's a derby and because we know how Girona play, as they're an intense and great team, but now we'll recover tomorrow and start thinking about Wednesday," he said in his post-match press conference, according to Marca.

"Our hope is to go through. We made changes the other day (leaving out the likes of Messi and Sergio Busquets) with respect to today's line-up.

"We have three matches in six days this week and there's also a very important one against Valencia (on Saturday), but it's true that what matters to us right now is the Copa del Rey.

"I don't want another result like the other day."

Valverde also defended Philippe Coutinho, who has scored just once in the last 15 matches and failed to sparkle again against Girona, who had Bernardo Espinosa sent off before Messi made the game safe.

"What I like about him is that he always tries things and takes on his man," the Barca boss added about Coutinho.

"It might work or it might not. He had chances today, but didn't score because their goalkeeper is excellent.

"He'll convert other chances soon."

Updated: January 28, 2019 08:47 AM

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