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Tuesday, 28 January 2020

Barcelona searching for consistency ahead of Las Palmas trip

Reuters , Thursday 12 Jan 2017
Barcelona
FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi, right, celebrates after scoring with his teammate Neymar during a Copa del Rey, 16 round, second leg, between FC Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao at the Camp Nou in Barcelona, Wednesday (Photo: AP)
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 Barcelona have dazzled at times in La Liga yet they head into Saturday's home game against Las Palmas in third position.
 
Inconsistency has left Luis Enrique's team five points adrift of Real Madrid, who have a game in hand and face second-place Sevilla for the third time in 11 days in their La Liga game on Sunday.
 
Luis Enrique believes his players can start to move up a gear after sparkling while overturning a 2-1 deficit in their King's Cup tie with Athletic Bilbao to progress to the quarter-finals, 4-3 on aggregate.
 
"In recent games, teams have been doing very little but scoring against us," Luis Enrique told his club's website. "But with my players' attitude, I'm sure we'll put that behind us quickly. What we have to do now is string some wins together."
 
Against Athletic, Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar scored in the same game for the first time since a 4-0 romp over Manchester City on Oct. 19.
 
Neymar's goal was his first for Barca since that game.
 
Suarez's strike was his 100th goal for the club in 120 appearances and it marked the 300th for Barca's attacking trio since they began to play together.
 
"This result will do a lot to lift our morale," Suarez said. "It's what we wanted and it's what we needed. Now we need to keep working hard to meet our targets."
 
Eighth-place Las Palmas beat Atletico Madrid, 3-2, in the King's Cup but lost 4-3 on aggregate.
 
Real will travel to the Sanchez Pizjuan after facing Sevilla at the same venue on Thursday in the King's Cup last 16. They hold a 3-0 advantage going into the second leg.
 
Cristiano Ronaldo, who won FIFA's player of the year award for the fourth time on Monday, and Luka Modric are expected to return to the squad. Coach Zinedine Zidane confirmed both would rest and not feature against Sevilla in midweek.
 
Zidane's side crushed Granada 5-0 in their last league game to equal Barca's Spanish record of 39 games unbeaten in all competitions.
 
Sevilla, who remained four points adrift of Real with a 4-0 win at Real Sociedad at the weekend, are expected to give new signings Stevan Jovetic and Clement Lenglet La Liga debuts. 
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