Luis Suarez 7/10, Lionel Messi 6/10 as Barcelona beat Alaves
Barcelona came from behind to beat Alaves 2-1 on Sunday and restore their 11-point lead over Atletico Madrid the top of La Liga.
John Guidetti gave Alaves a first-half lead at Camp Nou as the Basque side, who won here last season, threatened to Barca's unbeaten league record. But Luis Suarez drew Ernesto Valverde's side level in the 72nd minute, and Messi wrapped up three points with a free kick five minutes from time.
Barca once again showed how resolute they are, coming on strong in the second half to turn yet another game around. They have now earned 20 points as a direct result of second-half goals, while 42 of their 59 league goals have come after the break.
And while it wasn't the show-stopping performance you may want from your €160 million signing, there was a full debut for Philippe Coutinho. The Brazil international will benefit from playing just over an hour with his new teammates.
For the first time in a while, Barca looked sluggish in the first half, even complacent. They may not get away with that in tougher games. They were also lucky to hang on to the win. Alaves were hard done in by the dying stages of the game, when Samuel Umtiti appeared to handle the ball in the area.
Manager rating (out of 10)
7 -- Valverde displayed his ruthlessness by pulling off full-backs Lucas Digne and Nelson Semedo early in the second half. On came Jordi Alba and Sergi Roberto, and the changes worked, giving Barca more width.
Player ratings (1-10, with 10 the best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Marc-Andre ter Stegen, 6 -- Not at fault for the goal, with Guidetti's slip wrong-footing him and the ball finding the back of the net.
DF Nelson Semedo, 6 -- Produced some exciting moments with his pace and trickery in attack, but he was unable to offer a significant contribution before being removed early in the second half.
DF Gerard Pique, 5 -- One of his looser performances of the season, giving the ball away too frequently in the first half. Still, he continued to charge forward when he could and may even have gotten the last touch on Suarez's goal.
DF Samuel Umtiti, 6 -- Steady, if nothing else, on his second start since returning from a hamstring injury. It was a difficult game for the Barca defenders, who were often left defending man-to-man.
DF Lucas Digne, 6 -- Making his first La Liga start since Oct. 21, Digne was hauled off in the early stages of the second half. Had come close to scoring with a first-half effort but overall was unable to replicate the relationship Alba has with his teammates on the left flank.
MF Ivan Rakitic, 7 -- Has often looked at his best in the "Sergio Busquets role" this season, and he was one of Barca's better players there once again. Like his teammates, there were moments of poor decision-making, but he did OK.
MF Paulinho, 5 -- Couldn't add to his tally of eight league goals this season, with one great chance cleared off the line. This wasn't the game for him. He seems to do better in more open and end-to-end games -- not matches in which the opponents shut up shop and close down space.
MF Andres Iniesta, 7 -- A second start in four days after returning from a calf injury for the Barca captain, who produced a fine assist for Suarez's equaliser.
MF Philippe Coutinho, 6 -- Making his full debut after earning first minutes in the midweek win over Espanyol, the Brazil international showed some promise. Playing on the right, though, didn't produce the performance many might have hoped for.
FW Lionel Messi, 6 -- Making his 200th Camp Nou appearance, Messi scored the winning goal with a late free kick. It wasn't his finest night, though, and his best chances were all from set plays. But even when he's not at his best, he's still the match winner.
FW Luis Suarez, 7 -- Scored the equaliser to take his tally to 12 goals in the past 10 games in all competitions. Not his best performance in recent weeks, but he was a nuisance and managed to get himself into scoring positions.
DF Jordi Alba, 7 -- Added width on the left and linked well with Iniesta, Suarez and Messi.
DF Sergi Roberto, 7 -- Drove Barca forward and was a more direct threat than Semedo.
DF Paco Alcacer, 6 -- Not overly involved but gave the Alaves defence something else to think about.
Samuel Marsden covers Barcelona for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @SamuelMarsden.