Wednesday, 19 September, 2018

Spanish La Liga match report Eibar v FC Barcelona 17 February 2018

Steve Sidwell GETTY Steve Sidwell has slammed Chelsea this season
Stacy Diaz | 18 February, 2018, 02:38

BC-SOC-Spanish Roundup, 3rd Ld-Writethru, 615Barcelona wins at Eibar 2-0 before trip to Chelsea in CLAP Photo AB106, AB110, AB116, AB103Eds: Updates with Valencia winLionel Messi has helped to set up two goals to beat 10-man Eibar 2-0.

The 32-year-old previously received red cards versus Barca while playing for Xerez and Celta Vigo and, having made a rash lunge on Andres Iniesta inside the opposition penalty area, he punched the ball away in frustration when Diop was punished for a 66th-minute foul on Sergio Busquets and received a second booking for dissent.

Since taking charge last summer, Ernesto Valverde has never been on the losing side in the league, with Barca yet to taste defeat in 24 matches this season and 10 points clear of second-placed Atletico Madrid.

Barca may have been taken aback by the intensity and force that Eibar played with, but it wasn't enough to ruffle their feathers as they did what they do best and dismantled the Eibar defense to find the opening goal of the game. Eibar's intensity and fighting spirit was revived as they had the upper hand over the league leaders.

Valverde will be concerned with how tired his team looked especially ahead of next week's trip to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea in the last 16 of the Champions League.

Last weekend saw a typical Atletico Madrid performance: an early goal away to Malaga, followed by 89 minutes of defensive solidity to claim their eighth 1-0 win of the season. They have the best attack (60 goals in 23 matches, averaging nearly three goals per game) and the second-best defence (12 goals conceded) in the competition, so they are excelling on both ends of the pitch.

Ernesto Valverde's side will have one eye on their European game at Stamford Bridge, scene of one of the club's most famous nights as they earned a dramatic late draw to advance to the final en route to the treble in 2008-09.

His players continued to push in vain despite the deck being stacked against them, ambition that contributed to a game-sealing second.

Ipurua Municipal Stadium will host the showdown.

Ousmane Dembele was left on the Barca bench for the Eibar game.

Eibar coach Jose Luis Mendilibar was also sent off minutes later for protesting when the referee did not book Suarez for lightly kicking the ball after play stopped for an offside call.

- Lionel Messi is Luis Suarez's top assistant in all competitions for Barcelona (25 assists).

Eibar are riding a four-game undefeated streak, with two draws and two wins.

Eibar have lost their seven La Liga games against Barcelona, conceding 26 goals in total (3.7 per game) and only scoring in four of them.