Dazzling Dembele draws Coutinho praise after shining in Messi's absence

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Dembele was a constant threat to Malaga down the right-hand side and he set up Philippe Coutinho's sumptuous second goal, toying with a defender before laying the ball on for the Brazilian to score with a backheel.

After a hard debut season at the Camp Nou, the former Borussia Dortmund winger looked settled on Saturday and his football was free-flowing as a result.

"Today is yet another step forward for him". "But there's still a way to go".

"Of course there's a title race", Valverde told reporters after Barca preserved their unbeaten record.

Messi will be back for Wednesday's Champions League round-of-16 second leg against Chelsea, for which the Blaugrana are slight favorites at 1-1 after the first leg away from home. "But it's not like that".

The 30-year-old played no part in Barca's win over Espanyol in the Supercopa de Catalunya earlier this week, which means he will have nine days' rest before the match against Antonio Conte's side.

"These are more than just three points", Moreno said.

Ernesto Valverde's team came out happy to control and impose themselves on a despairing Malaga side in the second half, with the visitors content to take their foot off the pedal somewhat.

"Everything happened in the first half".

Spain global Rodrigo Moreno scored either side of half-time to inflict a third home defeat in little more than two months on Sevilla, whose best chance of getting back into Europe's elite competition now likely rests on them winning the tournament.

Barca will benefit from a fresh Messi against the Premier League champions at Camp Nou. He and his wife Antonella became proud parents for the third time, when they welcomed their third son Ciro into the world. Nelson Semedo and Denis Suarez are both sidelined.