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How Barcelona replaced Valverde with Setien

Barcelona
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Neymar, Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi fire Barelona to victory

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Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar all netted as Barcelona eased to a 4-0 win over Real Sociedad, keeping them in the driving seat at the top of the Primera Division.

The Catalans had a lot to live up to after thrashing arch rivals Real Madrid 4-0 at the Bernabeu last weekend and then blitzing Roma 6-1 on Tuesday.

They did not disappoint, taking the lead midway through the first half through Neymar.

Suarez doubled their advantage a few minutes before half-time with a crashing volley and after the break Neymar struck again.

The Brazil forward laid the ball on for Messi to round off the victory, adding late gloss to a win that cements Barca's place at the top of the league, nine points clear of Madrid, who face Eibar on Sunday.

Luis Enrique rested Jordi Alba for the game and had to leave the injured Sergi Roberto out, so Jeremy Mathieu came in at left-back and Messi made his first appearance in a league game at the Nou Camp for nine weeks after a knee injury.

Real Sociedad, meanwhile, were without suspended midfield anchor Asier Illarramendi, although Carlos Vela returned to the starting line-up.

Sociedad coach Eusebio Sacristan was returning to a club he knows inside out, having made more than 200 appearances for the Catalans before working as an assistant to Frank Rijkaard and first-team coach of their reserve side.

Neymar
Neymar and Barcelona cruised past Real Sociedad on Saturday.

Eusebio's first match since succeeding David Moyes saw Sevilla defeat 2-0 last week and his side made a confident start at the Nou Camp - a ground Real Sociedad have not won at since 1991.

The visitors sought to press their opponents high up the pitch to limit their time on the ball, but it also meant they were prone to quick breaks from the hosts, such as when Suarez raced behind the defence after three minutes but was unable to beat talented Argentine goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli.

The next big chance to fall Barca's way came when Suarez crossed with the outside of his foot towards Andres Iniesta, and the Spain midfielder attempted a rare header which came bouncing off the far post.

Barca eventually found a way through on 22 minutes. A stylish manoeuvre from Messi played Alves in down the right-hand side, with Neymar racing in behind his marker to turn his compatriot's low cross into the near top corner.

The second goal also originated from a cross from Alves.

This time the Brazilian got right to the byline and scooped the ball up high towards the other side of the box, allowing Suarez to pick his spot and lash the ball past Rulli on the volley, scoring his 12th league goal of the season.

La Real were unable to keep up their high pressing game early in the second half and it was not long before they conceded again.

Iniesta, who was applauded off the pitch by Real Madrid fans following last week's majestic display, spotted the overlapping Mathieu and slipped the ball into the path of the Frenchman, who sent in a low sweeping pass across the box for Neymar to turn in.

To their credit, Real Sociedad ended the game on a strong note, helped by the appearance of lively Portuguese winger Bruma, who managed three shots on goal in the nine minutes he was on the pitch.

The 21-year-old could only test Claudio Bravo once, though, and it was a familiar face who scored the final goal of the game.

Messi had hit the crossbar only minutes earlier in search of his first league goal since September, but was able to round off the scoring in the first minute of injury time, appearing at the far post to tap in after another outstanding piece of skill by Neymar.

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