Luis Suarez tells Barca fans they are 'privileged' to watch Lionel Messi
Luis Suarez says we should feel privileged to watch Lionel Messi after the duo masterminded Barcelona's 5-0 win against Real Betis on Sunday.
Suarez and Messi scored two each as Barca scored five second-half goals to move 11 points clear of second-placed Atletico Madrid, who were held by Girona on Saturday.
Ivan Rakitic opened the scoring for Barca in the 59th minute but the game quickly became about Suarez and Messi, with the latter's range of skills even drawing applause from the home fans at the Benito Villamarin.
As well as scoring two, Messi also set up the fifth for Suarez, with a mazy run followed up with a deft pass to the Uruguayan striker.
"In every game, Messi adds a special touch," Suarez told reporters after the final whistle. "This was another match in which Leo was spectacular. People should feel privileged to be able to watch the best player in the world."
Barca boss Ernesto Valverde, who's been on the end of many mesmerising Messi displays in the past as the opposition coach, is now happy to be on the same side as the five-time World Player of the Year.
"We played well and Messi was incredible," Valverde said in his postgame news conference. "We're living at the same time as him, so we just have to enjoy him.
"I've coached against him in the past and I know what he's capable of. Now I can enjoy him. It's spectacular to watch him every day. He is the best player there is and the best there will ever be."
Even the Betis players were left in awe of another fine Messi performance.
"Right now he is unstoppable, the best in the world," former teammate Cristian Tello said. "He does things that no one else can do. I asked for his shirt at halftime because when you play on the same team as him you don't think about that... and it turned out I didn't have a single shirt of his!"
Joaquin added so much has been said about the brilliance of Messi that "we don't know what to say [about him] anymore" and defender Zouhair Feddal said that the Argentine "can make the difference whenever he wants."
Former Real Madrid goalkeeper Antonio Adan, who was unable to prevent Messi taking his tally of La Liga goals for the season to 19, said the Barca forward "makes the sport better."
"Messi is spectacular," Adan said. "In the first half he wasn't really involved, it seemed as if he was walking... but then he gets four balls, scores two goals and provides two assists. He makes the sport better."
Messi's magic in the second half came after Thomas Vermaelen, making his 13th successive appearance for the club, was forced off with a hamstring problem. He will undergo tests to find out the extent of the injury on Monday.
Samuel Umtiti, himself returning from a seven-week injury layoff, replaced the Belgium international just before half-time with Betis having been more than a match for Barca until that point.
"It was a tough one," Valverde added. "Betis took risks and pressed high. It was difficult because they went man-for-man all over the pitch. We struggled in the early stages because they changed their way of playing, with three at the back.
"But as the game progressed, we got better. We persevered, they took risks and we punished them. Patience has given us the result."
Barcelona are now unbeaten through their first 20 games in La Liga, with Valencia (14 points) and Real Madrid (19) even further back than Atletico.
However, Valverde says the Catalans will not take their lead at the top of the table for granted with 18 matches still to be played, before turning his attention to Thursday's Copa del Rey quarterfinal against Espanyol, which Barca go into trailing 1-0.
"La Liga is not boring for us," he said when asked if Barca's commanding position could lead to complacency. "We won't get ahead of ourselves. There are still 18 games to go but, of course, every game we win is another big step forward.
"We have to keep going in the same vein. Now it's time to think about the Copa del Rey game on Thursday and to try and turn the tie around."
Samuel Marsden covers Barcelona for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @SamuelMarsden.