Messi-Alba combination is almost unstoppable – Koeman

By Sports Desk March 07, 2021

Ronald Koeman believes the combination between Lionel Messi and Jordi Alba for Barcelona is almost unstoppable.

Messi set up Alba's opener and Ilaix Moriba's sealer as Barca recorded a 2-0 LaLiga win at Osasuna on Saturday.

Of Alba's past 16 goals for Barca in all competitions, Messi has assisted eight.

Koeman, whose side closed to within two points of leaders Atletico Madrid, said the duo's connection was almost impossible to stop.

"You can see in every game our opponents are trying to cover that, trying to block Messi's pass to play the ball in behind to Jordi Alba," the Barcelona coach told a news conference.

"So, at many points of a game that pass between them isn't possible. But I don't think you can stop these two players and that connection that's there between Messi and Jordi Alba because it's something brilliant.

"There are always moments in a game where that pass does appear and those two are calm enough on the ball to pick it out and they can pick it out very easily and they really do it at the right time.

"You can't really stop it because it's just natural instinct."

Atletico have played two fewer games than Barca, with Diego Simeone's side facing Real Madrid in a derby clash on Sunday.

Related items

  • Maddison makes England case again, missing World Cup 'a shame for the country' Maddison makes England case again, missing World Cup 'a shame for the country'

    James Maddison not going to the World Cup with England would be "a shame for the country", said Brendan Rodgers after the Leicester City midfielder scored another two goals on Monday.

    Maddison's continued absence from Gareth Southgate's Three Lions squad has been the source of some contention.

    The 25-year-old has earned only a single England cap, in November 2019, and appears to face an uphill battle to gain favour with Southgate before Qatar 2022 kicks off next month.

    Yet Maddison has started the Premier League season in outstanding form. After scoring two and assisting another in Leicester's 4-0 win over fellow strugglers Nottingham Forest, he has seven goal involvements in seven appearances.

    Going back to the start of the previous campaign, Southgate's captain Harry Kane is the only English player with more Premier League goals (24) or goal involvements (34) than Maddison (17 goals, 10 assists).

    "It's such a shame for the country and for James himself," manager Rodgers told Sky Sports. "You see his talent, and his performance level for the last 18 months I think everybody is clear on.

    "I think it's only Harry Kane who has created and scored more goals than him, so to not even be in the squad...

    "Even if he's not going to start, to have a player of that quality and not only in that, in international football, to have the personality to take the ball, be creative, take the ball and change the game, James is all of that. He's an absolutely brilliant player.

    "I really hope over these next few months he can continue the form he's shown for 18 months and somehow get into the team, because if you're wanting creativity, you're wanting personality – he's improved his defensive side of his game, and he can play in a couple of positions.

    "For me, he's an absolutely outstanding player, and he's up there.

    "I love Phil Foden, Mason Mount, those boys who play there – Jack Grealish is different, Jack plays from the side – but Madders can play in a number of positions to a high level, and he showed that tonight."

    Maddison, who said suggestions he would not be a good character within the group if not starting were "insulting", added: "It's been a weird position for me.

    "We [Leicester] have been bottom of the league, and results have not been going our way, but I've almost been as confident as I've ever been in my career.

    "I don't remember over the last 12 months playing better than I have and feeling as well as I have.

    "It's obviously hard to answer this question [on his England hopes], because you want to say the right thing, you don't want to say the wrong thing, but that's an ambition of mine, a goal of mine.

    "I'm a football man, I watch all the games, I watch international football, and an opportunity at that level would be something I desire. I almost know I'd have an impact.

    "It's one I hope will come my way at some point."

  • Xavi not looking for Inter revenge in 'very important' San Siro showdown Xavi not looking for Inter revenge in 'very important' San Siro showdown

    Xavi will not be on a revenge mission when Barcelona face Inter in a "very important" Champions League showdown at San Siro on Tuesday.

    Head coach Xavi was in the Barca side knocked out of the Champions League by Inter at the semi-final stage in 2010.

    The Blaugrana were beaten 3-1 in the first leg in Milan and failed to overturn that deficit, crashing out after winning 1-0 at Camp Nou against Jose Mourinho's men, who went on to lift the trophy.

    Xavi returns to San Siro with the two sides both having picked up three points from their opening two Group C games, with Barca beaten 2-0 at leaders Bayern Munich last month.

    And the former Spain midfielder is motivated by the prospect of qualifying for the last 16 rather than having a score to settle.

    He said: "I have no feeling of [wanting] revenge. I come here as a coach this time. I remember that we had to travel by bus [to Milan] because of the volcano, but they were a great team.

    "It was difficult for us in the first leg. We lost it here. It was a controversial tie, but this is how it is. It's a bitter memory for us, unfortunately."

    Inter boss Simone Inzaghi is under pressure with his side ninth in Serie A following back-to-back defeats to Udinese and Roma.

    But Xavi is not reading anything into the Nerazzurri's poor form, as he knows they have the quality to turn things around.

    "It's not significant," he said. "It's Inter, a very strong team. They have a different system to anything we've come across so far.

    "They play with two strikers, something you don't see too much in Spain. They're a tough opponent, with good dynamics, but that has to be shown."

    Xavi added: "I have it quite clear. Despite the size of the rival, we are clear that we want to dominate. It is an important rival. It is the Champions League. It is not a definitive match, but it is very important for the future of the group."

    Inter have won just two of their 14 European matches against Barcelona, a 2-1 victory in the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup in January 1970 and that 3-1 Champions League triumph in April 2010.

    However, Barca's only two away wins against the Nerazzurri came 60 years apart, winning 4-2 in the Fairs Cup in September 1959 and 2-1 in the Champions League in December 2019.

  • Former Argentina forward Higuain confirms retirement at end of MLS season Former Argentina forward Higuain confirms retirement at end of MLS season

    Gonzalo Higuain will retire from professional football at the end of the 2022 MLS season, he announced on Monday.

    The veteran striker, a 75-cap former Argentina international who was a member of the squad that came second at the 2014 World Cup, will bring the curtain down on a glittering 17-year career.

    Higuain played over 100 games for each of Real Madrid, Napoli and Juventus, having began his playing days with River Plate, while he also had brief spells with Milan and Chelsea before joining Inter Miami.

    A six-time domestic league champion – with three LaLiga crowns and three Serie A triumphs – he signed for the MLS club in September 2020.

    Higuain has been in top form for Miami in the second half of this season, scoring 12 goals and assisting a further two in the past 14 games.

    Phil Neville's side are seventh in the Eastern Conference, clinging to the final playoff place with two games of the regular season remaining.

    Victories over Orlando City on Wednesday and CF Montreal on Sunday would extend Miami's season and Higuain's career.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.