Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez combine for five goals in Barcelona rout of Girona
Barcelona recovered from the shock of going 1-0 down to Girona on Saturday to hammer their Catalan neighbors 6-1, with Lionel Messi producing a mesmerising first-half performance.
Messi scored two, including a free kick which he put under the wall, and was involved in two Luis Suarez goals as Barca ended the first 45 minutes with a 4-1 lead.
Philippe Coutinho added the fifth from long range after the break before Suarez completed his hat trick late on, set up by Ousmane Dembele.
For the first time ever, Barca began a game with Messi, Suarez, Coutinho and Dembele all in the side. And -- surprise, surprise -- they tore Girona apart. Messi and Suarez stole the show, but the contributions from Coutinho and Dembele were just as important. The two new signings are still learning and will have taken a lot from this performance.
Gerard Pique came off with an injury when perhaps he shouldn't have been playing. He has been struggling with a knee problem since the beginning of the month but hasn't taken a rest. Nelson Semedo was also taken off with a knock late on as Barca were forced to end the game with 10 men.
Manager rating (out of 10)
8 -- Ernesto Valverde played Barca's two most expensive players from the off for the first time and it worked perfectly. Messi and Suarez stole the show, but the contributions from Coutinho and Dembele were important for their adaption to the team.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Marc-Andre ter Stegen, 6 -- Was caught cold for the goal, but it wasn't his fault. Other than that, had little to do other than a couple of late saves in stoppage-time.
DF Nelson Semedo, 7 -- His pace could be a big weapon for Barca in the final phase of the season. A brilliant run led to Suarez's second goal. Unfortunately, he couldn't finish the game, hobbling off late on with an injury.
DF Gerard Pique, 6 -- Continues to struggle with a knee injury, but Valverde keeps playing him. Looked in some pain early in the second half and was eventually taken off for Thomas Vermaelen.
DF Samuel Umtiti, 6 -- Been in great form since returning from an injury but was at fault for the first goal, switching off and letting Portu get between him and Ter Stegen.
DF Jordi Alba, 7 -- Another good display from the full-back, who joined in the attack whenever he could and was frequently on the end of Messi's delicious passes out to the left.
MF Sergio Busquets, 7 -- Gave the ball away cheaply in the lead up to Girona's opener. Recovered well, though, and was the base for many Barca attacks as they swarmed all over their visitors in the first half.
MF Ivan Rakitic, 7 -- Played well alongside Busquets. He had to be aware of Girona on the counterattack due to the attacking intentions of the four players in front of him.
MF Philippe Coutinho, 8 -- Liverpool fans will be familiar with the goal he scored here: a stunning, whipped effort from 25 yards into the top corner. Had previously set up Suarez's second goal and linked well with the Uruguayan throughout.
MF Ousmane Dembele, 8 -- Making his first start in over a month after a hamstring injury, the France international got better and better as the game went on. Caused plenty of problems with his pace and direct running at defenders. Set up the sixth goal for Suarez, too.
FW Lionel Messi, 10 -- Had maximum marks sewn up by half-time with an outrageous 45 minutes. Produced three passes in the first 12 minutes which most players won't produce in their entire career, one of which set up Suarez's first goal. Then scored twice, including a cheeky, under-the-wall free kick, before leading the attack that culminated in Suarez's second.
FW Luis Suarez, 10 -- A clever run and a well-placed finish got Barca back in the game after Girona had taken a shock early lead. Then set up Messi's first goal before tapping in Coutinho's pass on the stroke of half-time.
DF Thomas Vermaelen, 6 -- First minutes for the Belgian in a month after recovering from a hamstring injury, coming on for Pique for the final half-hour.
MF Paulinho, NR -- Came on to give Busquets a rest ahead of the game at Las Palmas on Thursday.
MF Sergi Roberto, NR -- Brought on in midfield but had to finish the game at right-back when Semedo went off.
Samuel Marsden covers Barcelona for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @SamuelMarsden.