RATINGS: Barcelona Find A Way Against Improved Alaves

Ernesto Valverde's second half changes strike again as Barcelona came from behind to beat Alaves 2-1 with goals from Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi. The game was marred with difficult decisions for the referees, many going in the favor of the Blaugrana in this particular fixture.

With Lucas Digne filling in for Jordi Alba and Nelson Semedo at right-back, Barcelona failed to put their mark on the contest in the first half, conceding a swift counter-attack to their Basque opposition in the 23rd minute, leading to John Guidetti's goal. The goal came just seven minutes after Marc-Andre ter Stegen made a sublime save to prevent an earlier goal on the counter. Clearly Abelardo and the Alaves coaching staff should be commended for their successful game-plan against the Catalans.

While Philippe Coutinho's first start in a Barcelona uniform wasn't going as planned, Valverde inserted both Jordi Alba and Sergi Roberto in the 52nd minute and the game noticeably changed for the home team. With the defense reinforced, the attack settled down and Luis Suarez, who had been buzzing around the box with greater ferocity as the game wore on, connected on a cross from Andres Iniesta with enough pace to get by both keeper and defender. The Uruguayan is now the first player in Europe's top five leagues to score in eight straight matches this season, a remarkable feat for a player so heavily criticized just a few months ago.

Lionel Messi didn't have his best day and misplayed an uncharacteristic number of passes. He lost the ball in difficult spots, including a misstep that led to the Alaves goal, but he still struck gold on a late free kick to be the hero. Even when he isn't at his best, the 2017-2018 version of Messi continues to find ways to will Barcelona to victory.

Match Stats:

Player Ratings:

Ter Stegen: 7
Semedo: 5
Pique: 6
Umtiti: 7
Digne: 4
Rakitic: 6
Paulinho: 5
Iniesta: 7
Coutinho: 5
Messi: 7
Suarez: 8

Alba: 7
Sergi Roberto: 7
Alcacer: 6

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