Barcelona head coach Ernesto Valverde was left pondering Ousmane Dembele's red card at the end of his side's rout of Sevilla, claiming the Frenchman's grasp of Spanish would have restricted the words that led to his dismissal.

Dembele was sent off two minutes from time for protesting the red card shown to Barcelona debutant Ronald Araujo in Sunday's 4-0 LaLiga victory, and Valverde said the late disciplinary flurry did not reflect the manner of the game.

Barca cruised to their fourth consecutive win in all competitions, scoring three goals in eight first-half minutes before captain Lionel Messi added a fourth with a second-half free-kick.

Valverde praised his side's incisive forward play after the champions moved within two points of top spot thanks to goals from Luis Suarez, Arturo Vidal, Dembele and Messi.

"We have had more punch than them, there is the key," Valverde told reporters afterwards.

"The result is substantial, but we don't have to be forgiving to our rivals.

"The red cards? It's the referee's decision. Everyone has their opinion. I've seen a pretty clean game.

"It didn't seem like Araujo's fault, but I always see everything in favour of my team.

"I don't know what Dembele may have said to the referee but I don't think it's a long sentence because it's hard to hear him speak Spanish."

Sevilla coach Julen Lopetegui hailed his side's bright start, in which Luuk de Jong squandered three good opportunities to put the visitors ahead.

But Barcelona's dominance thereafter leaves Sevilla with three defeats from their last four LaLiga matches and Lopetegui felt the result at Camp Nou was harsh on his players.

"The first 30 to 35 minutes were ours," said Lopetegui. "We had very clear chances and we didn't score. And in such a scenario when you don't take advantage, the laws of football take effect."

Ansu Fati is back in the Barcelona squad for Sunday's visit of Sevilla, while Jordi Alba also returns after almost three weeks out.

Fati, 16, missed Barca's wins over Getafe and Inter in the past week with a knee injury, having made a fine impact at the start of the campaign despite his tender age.

However, he has been given the all-clear to return to action and is named in the squad to face Sevilla – whose academy he represented as a child – at Camp Nou this weekend.

Left-back Alba is back in contention as well having been out since mid-September, when he suffered a hamstring strain against Borussia Dortmund.

Barca are almost at full strength, with only injured duo Samuel Umtiti and Junior Firpo and the suspended Clement Lenglet unable to feature.

Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez are fit for Barcelona but Ernesto Valverde's focus is on getting his star forwards fully up to speed. 

Suarez scored both Barca goals in a comeback victory at home to Inter in the Champions League in midweek with Messi, whose season has been plagued by injury, setting up the second at the end of an excellent run. 

Barca's indifferent start to their LaLiga title defence has not been helped by injuries to both forwards, with Valverde's side five points behind leaders Real Madrid heading into their encounter with Sevilla. 

Neither Messi or Suarez will play for Argentina or Uruguay for the upcoming internationals, with Valverde acknowledging it presents him with an opportunity to get the duo back up to their full capacity. 

"Of course they are fit again, they showed that [against Inter]," Valverde told a news conference ahead of a meeting with Sevilla at Camp Nou. 

"I will decide on Sunday whether I start one or the other or bring them on later. They are two players who have struggled with injuries this season but the more they play the more form they will get.  

"We like the players to be picked for international duty because it means they're not injured, because it means they're playing at their top level. 

"There are not many players for us going this international break - that's not necessarily a bad thing. 

"It means we will have a more complete squad for training and can work on certain things. But after that fortnight we've got important matches in LaLiga and the Champions League and we need to be ready for those. 

"We're doing well. We've hit on a good run, now we're playing a very strong team, the aim is to keep moving forward." 

Barca have been without Jordi Alba since the left-back sustained a hamstring injury in the Champions League draw with Borussia Dortmund on September 17, but Valverde confirmed the Spain international is back in contention. 

"Not having a specific left-footed full-back is unnatural," said Valverde, who has also been shorn of Junior Firpo due to a hamstring problem. 

"The players who have had to play there have done well, the players are used to this kind of thing but we'll see if Jordi can recover. 

"We'll wait but it's certainly a possibility. He's not been declared fully fit yet, he did part of training the other day. He certainly felt fine but we'll wait to see how things go." 

Alba was later included in a 19-man squad by Valverde, with Ansu Fati also returning from injury.

Neymar may not have secured his return to Barcelona, but the Paris Saint-Germain star's future continues to make headlines.

The Brazil forward was keen on making a Barca comeback, two years after his world-record transfer to the French capital.

But as Antoine Griezmann struggles to settle in at Camp Nou, the Frenchman could see himself shipped out to make way for Neymar.

 

TOP STORY – NEYMAR & GRIEZMANN IN SWAP DEAL

Barcelona are considering the possibility of sending Griezmann to Paris Saint-Germain for Neymar, claims Le10Sport.

Neymar was unable to secure a return to Barca during the transfer window following his €222million exit in 2017.

But as Griezmann – who only arrived from LaLiga rivals Atletico Madrid in the off-season – finds it difficult to settle and develop a relationship with Lionel Messi, the Barca recruit is being talked about as a possible makeweight.

 

ROUND-UP

- Leicester City star James Maddison is Tottenham's number one target to replace soon-to-be free agent Christian Eriksen, according to the Daily Star. Maddison has also been linked to Premier League rivals Manchester United.

Real Madrid could trigger Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Jan Oblak's €120m release clause as Thibaut Courtois struggles at the Santiago Bernabeu, according to ElDesmarque.

- The front page of Corriere dello Sport says Lazio have signed star midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic to a new contract until 2024. The deal, worked out in secret for another season, appears to end speculation of a move to the likes of InterUnited, Real Madrid, Juventus or Paris Saint-Germain.

Gennaro Gattuso could make a sensational return to AC Milan, but only in an unlikely scenario. Amid mounting pressure on coach Marco Giampaolo, El Corriere claims Gattuso – who stepped down at the end of 2018-19 – would make his way back to San Siro if directors Paolo Maldini and Zvonimir Boban quit.

- The Express says Chelsea will offer Willian a new contract amid links to LaLiga champions Barcelona. It comes as the Evening Standard reports the Blues will reward Tammy Abraham and Fikayo Tomori with fresh deals.

- Could Carlo Ancelotti leave Napoli at the end of the season? Corriere dello Sport suggests the Italian head coach could depart if results do not improve. Napoli are already six points adrift of Serie A leaders Inter.

- Marca says Manchester United are keeping an eye on Mexico international Jose Juan Macias. The 20-year-old Leon forward scored his first international goal on debut for El Tri on Wednesday.

- Ernesto Valverde's future as Barcelona boss is far from certain and with that in mind, TNT Sport reports that River Plate coach Marcelo Gallardo is the club's first choice.

LaLiga president Javier Tebas believes an early kick-off time for the Clasico between Barcelona and Real Madrid allows more people around the world to tune in.

The October 26 clash between the LaLiga rivals will take place at Camp Nou with a kick-off time of 13:00 CET (12:00 BST).

With both sides in Champions League action during the preceding week, Barca will have a day less recovery time than Madrid after returning from Slavia Prague.

Tebas indicated the decision to hold the Clasico early in the day was made with Asian television markets in mind.

"Now you put a Clasico at one o'clock and you can see it in more places across the world," he said on Friday.

"Our international work consists of that. If we don't put it at that time, in Asia they won't be able to watch it.

"It's Spanish football but it's no longer only for Spanish people. There are fans all over the world.

"In El Salvador they tell us that they will be sleeping on Saturday at one o'clock. We can't please everyone."

Tebas also responded to claims from the Spanish Football Federation that TV producers manipulated VAR images after Denis Cheryshev's goal was allowed to stand in Valencia's 1-0 win against Athletic Bilbao.

"I found it outrageous. No one doubts the system or the arbitrators," he said.

"The assessment will be made at the end of the season. It has been seven days. We have to wait.

"It would be bold to say that the system worked better or worse than last season. It was exaggerated."

Barcelona head coach Ernesto Valverde praised the impact of Lionel Messi in the club's come-from-behind Champions League win over Inter.

Messi returned from injury to help LaLiga champions Barca to a 2-1 victory against Inter at Camp Nou on Wednesday.

The Barca captain made just his second start of the season, having missed the Getafe trip due to a thigh injury sustained against Villarreal, and he set up Luis Suarez for the 84th-minute winner.

Discussing Messi's performance post-match, Valverde told reporters: "It is the first game that he played in full, also a game with a significant physical burden on the opponent and the competition.

"In any play he can help you even when he is tired. Messi has not done a pre-season like the others, so he has to catch up."

Messi was at the centre of Barca's match-winner, with the five-time Ballon d'Or champion finding Suarez on the edge of the box as his Uruguayan team-mate slotted home six minutes from the end.

Valverde added: "In the end he made a fantastic play, but he was more tired than at the beginning."

Suarez silenced his critics with a brace – making it three goals in two games – as Barca rallied past Antonio Conte's Inter on home soil.

Lautaro Martinez had silenced the crowd with his second-minute opener, but Suarez restored parity approaching the hour mark before getting Barca's Group F campaign up and running following their goalless draw at Borussia Dortmund.

"Strikers live in the danger zone," Valverde said. "They play in the most difficult area as they are always surrounded by defenders and need to solve the situations against the defenders they have onto them, so that is hard.

"Sometimes you cannot succeed, like one week ago, but then he scored once for La Liga and twice for Champions League. Luis has probed for long time already what he is capable of, so he keeps doing so."

Barca have struggled to convince this season amid growing pressure on Valverde and the Spanish boss added: "Of course this is an important win as it was a very important game, given how tight the group table was after the first match-day and also for the upcoming games.

"From the very first minute you all saw how important this game was for both teams given the intensity we both showed. For us, after drawing our first match playing a not-good game, I hope this comeback will help us for the upcoming fixtures."

Luis Suarez believes every aspect of Barcelona's play is "viewed with a magnifying glass" and opponents will up their game against them because they are the best team in the world.

Barca claimed a slender 2-1 win over Inter in the Champions League on Wednesday, coming from behind thanks to Suarez's stunning brace.

The Uruguayan striker netted twice in the second half, including an 84th-minute winner, after Lautaro Martinez had put Inter ahead early on at Camp Nou.

Inter had looked significantly more threatening than the hosts in the first half, but Suarez, who highlighted Ernesto Valverde's impact in altering his tactics, suggested any Barca errors are always magnified because of who they are.

"He [Valverde] told us that we had to be more orderly when it came to pressing. That's why we have the coach, to correct those mistakes and we [were] aware of how we were to do it," Suarez said.

"It is also a virtue of the rival because they have very fast players and have taken advantage of our spaces.

"We are in the best team in the world and everything is viewed with a magnifying glass.

"Being strong and focused, being aware that we are the team to beat – that's the mentality we should have in this Champions League."

Valverde accepted Inter made Barca work extremely hard for their victory, the coach believing the result simply came down to the Catalans being that bit better in the second half.

"We needed to revolutionise the game going forward," Valverde said. "With [Sergio] Busquets [who was replaced by Arturo Vidal early in the second half], Arthur and [Frenkie] De Jong, we controlled the game, but we needed to play into space.

"We needed to enter the area more and be more decisive in the final third. They were staying away from our goal and we were able to come back.

"We had a powerful team against us. They are top in Serie A after winning all their matches. They made life difficult for us, but in the second half we were better."

Lionel Messi and Ousmane Dembele have been passed fit to be included in the Barcelona squad to face Inter in the Champions League.

Club captain Messi has only started one game this season in all competitions due to calf and thigh injuries respectively.

Dembele has also been included in a 20-man squad named by coach Ernesto Valverde, after a minor knock, but teenage prodigy Ansu Fati remains out with a knee problem.

Defenders Samuel Umtiti and Jordi Alba are still sidelined and will miss Wednesday's Group F game at Camp Nou.

Inter have been dealt a blow with head coach Antonio Conte confirming in a news conference that striker Romelu Lukaku has been ruled out.

Lukaku's absence could open the door for former Barca forward Alexis Sanchez to start for the Nerazzurri, who drew their opener at Slavia Prague.

Lionel Messi could yet feature in Barcelona's Champions League clash with Inter on Wednesday, with Ernesto Valverde refusing to rule him out of the contest.

Messi has endured a difficult start to the season due to injury problems, suffering a calf strain in August that kept him out for a month, before a hamstring issue struck against Villarreal in September.

Early indications seemed to suggest Messi was going to be missing for up to three weeks, but he was back in training on Monday.

Although Valverde is yet to decide whether Messi is ready, he did warn expecting fans that he shall not needlessly risk their talisman, while there also remains a little uncertainty around Ousmane Dembele after hurting his hamstring.

"We will see if he [Messi] receives it [the all-clear to play]," Valverde told reporters on Tuesday. "First we have training. What I reiterate is that we will not run any risk and we have to wait for training. 

"On Monday Dembele did the first part of the training, so now we see if he can do more on Tuesday.

"Leo did half the training on Monday, we'll see if he can finish [Tuesday's session]. I don't know if we can count on them in the end."

Barca began their Champions league campaign with a 0-0 draw at Borussia Dortmund, meaning they are under a little more pressure to get a home win against Inter.

Antonio Conte's side have enjoyed a stunning upturn in form since the former Chelsea coach took over, winning six and losing none of their seven matches across all competitions this season.

In last season's Champions League, Barca beat Inter 2-0 in Camp Nou and drew 1-1 in Milan, though Valverde expects an entirely different challenge this time around.

"It is a team that has changed many things; players, the coach, they're playing with a different system, even if there are similar things, such as their intention to push up," Valverde said.

"They have had a spectacular start, they are winning all their matches and we are waiting for a complicated game.

"This is another Inter to last year, impacted by the coach, something similar to what we met with Chelsea two seasons ago. It's a solid team, hard to score against."

Ernesto Valverde hailed the perseverance of Luis Suarez, who silenced his critics with a goal in Barcelona's 2-0 LaLiga victory at Getafe.

Suarez was on target in the opening half as 10-man Barca recorded their first away victory of the league season on Saturday.

Whistled during Barca's win at home to Villarreal midweek, Suarez responded by scoring his third LaLiga goal of the campaign – a lobbed effort in the 41st minute.

Barca head coach Valverde lauded 32-year-old forward Suarez, who has come in for criticism due to his form.

"Goalscorers sometimes score and sometimes they don't, but Luis always perseveres," Valverde said. "He fought for a long ball and was rewarded."

Barca had lost two and drawn one of their opening three away fixtures in LaLiga prior to Saturday's triumph against Getafe.

The result left Barca fourth in the standings, two points adrift of leaders and bitter rivals Real Madrid.

"It was important not to make mistakes early on like we have done in other games," Valverde said. "That was fundamental. The goal calmed us down and, from there, we imposed ourselves well. We didn't give much away and had chances to score more.

"If you want to win LaLiga you have to win a lot of games away from home, not just your home games. Getafe were a tough rival, it's a hard place to come and we've played well. Now we have three days to prepare for Inter."  

Barca were without Ousmane Dembele for the Getafe trip due to a thigh injury and it remains to be seen whether the France international will be fit for Wednesday's Champions League showdown against Inter.

"It's true that I left him out of the [matchday] squad," Valverde added. "It was more as a precaution. He's told me that he is calm. We think it's a little nuisance, but it's nothing serious."

When asked if Dembele would feature against Inter, Valverde replied: "I don't know. I wish that wasn't the case, but I can't say for sure."

Marc-Andre ter Stegen admitted everything was perfectly aligned to allow him to become the first Barcelona goalkeeper to claim an assist in LaLiga this century.

The club's tiki-taka playing style, established in Johan Cruyff's time as manager, has meant goalkeepers have not been typically encouraged to kick the ball long to the strikers.

Instead, the policy has been to play out from the back, and Barcelona have built great success by doing just that.

However, German shot-stopper Ter Stegen was in a hurry to clear as he raced off his line and outside the penalty area to intercept the ball against Getafe on Saturday, with the game goalless.

He looked up, noticed Luis Suarez was beginning a sprint into the Getafe half, and launched the ball long. Suarez did the rest, shaking off the attentions of a defender before lobbing David Soria, grabbing the first goal in a 2-0 victory.

"It was a bit strange because it doesn't happen to you much in your career," Ter Stegen said.

"And it's something I hadn't done, but I'm happy. It was a perfect moment, for Luis to take off and then the pass... and the pass was good. I saw him there but the pass had to be perfect. Luis was perfectly positioned and we took advantage of it."

Barcelona were able to celebrate a first away win in the league this season, even if not all aspects of the performance were encouraging. Getafe were well in the game and would have been encouraged by some haphazard Barcelona defending before Suarez's goal changed the contest.

In quotes published on Barcelona's website, Ter Stegen added: "I think it was a step we needed this season. To win games away from home is tricky, so it was a good day for us and for the fans, I think. To keep a clean sheet is always important so I'm happy with that."

Head coach Ernesto Valverde offered his approval, saying of his goalkeeper: "Obviously we want him to be very aware of long passes because the goalkeeper can do that with defences which are pushed up, and [it was] a great assist."

Valverde, whose position will be under less scrutiny than it has following the three points, said the decision to leave Ousmane Dembele out of his team was "mainly a precaution" because of a minor thigh problem. Barcelona play Inter in the Champions League on Wednesday.

"Tomorrow we'll do more tests," Valverde said in quotes published by Marca.

The head coach was pleased to see Barcelona show some form away from Camp Nou, saying: "After the recent results away from home we needed to win and it was a good away trip because Getafe asked a lot of questions of us."

Barcelona are without Ansu Fati and Lionel Messi for their LaLiga trip to Getafe.

Messi was already expected to miss out after sustaining a thigh injury against Villarreal in midweek, when he made his first start of the season.

Teenager Fati will be joining the club captain in the treatment room after Barca confirmed he sits out the trip due to a right knee injury.

Messi and Fati being absent means there is a place in Ernesto Valverde's 19-man squad for Carles Perez, who signed a new three-year deal on Friday.

Barcelona have only won six of their last 14 LaLiga away games without Messi, losing six times and drawing twice.

However, their 10 LaLiga wins at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez is more than any other side.

 

Ernesto Valverde does not want Ansu Fati to go to the Under-17 World Cup with Barcelona already without Lionel Messi.

Messi has only started one game this season, the LaLiga defeat of Villarreal on Tuesday in which he was substituted at half-time.

Barca said Messi has an adductor injury but have offered no timescale for his return to action, with the Argentina attacker set to miss Saturday's trip to Getafe and unlikely to return for Inter's visit in the Champions League next week.

With Ousmane Dembele only just back to full fitness and Luis Suarez having also missed games due to injury this season Valverde's forward options have been limited.

That has enabled 16-year-old Fati to burst on to the scene with two LaLiga goals in a series of thrilling displays, but he could be selected for the U17 World Cup by Spain.

The tournament runs from October 26 to November 17 in Brazil, though there are reports Spain could instead fast-track Fati into their U21 squad.

"I'd like him to be with us," Valverde said of the teenager. "If he goes with the Under-21 team it would be for the international break, for the Under-17s it would be longer.

"We'll have to wait and see what decision the confederation makes so there isn't much else to say. We'd like him to be away for as little time as possible."

Of Messi's fitness, Valverde added: "I don't know how long he's going to be out, hopefully he'll be back with the team soon. It's not a serious injury so let's wait and see what he looks like today and going into next week.

"If he plays we have certain strengths, if he's not we're missing a top-quality player who makes a huge difference. We have other resources to take games on and we've done that. It's a setback but we can only keep going."

Barca go to Getafe on the back of a run of seven straight away games in all competitions without a win, while their hosts are unbeaten in six matches. Valverde is expecting a tough challenge at Coliseum Alfonso Perez.

"They're a solid team, it's hard to cope with their pressure," he said. "Very good in attack with players that come through to put you under pressure.

"It was hard to win there [2-1] last year, we played a good game but it was difficult. They always make chances at home and don't give away many.

"Sometimes it's like we have to win as soon as possible to stop a problem. We want to win the points always. We haven't won away or played well away, in general we haven't played well away and we need to focus on that.

"Sometimes the score works out and sometimes it doesn't. You need to play good football and this is what gets results."

Barcelona are set to appeal a €300 fine over their approach for Antoine Griezmann, confirmed coach Ernesto Valverde.

The Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) announced on Thursday Barca had been found guilty of violating article 126 of its disciplinary code during their pursuit of the Frenchman while he was at Atletico Madrid.

Barca signed Griezmann in July for €120million but Atletico claimed they were owed a further €80m, alleging an agreement between the player and LaLiga's champions being reached before his release clause dropped from €200m

A symbolic monetary penalty was imposed by the RFEF, while Griezmann escaped without sanction. However, Barca are appealing against the fine.

"I don't know the exact ins and outs of this question or how it stands legally," Valverde told a news conference. "I understand the club is appealing."

It has been a busy week off the field for Barca, with Friday seeing the Catalan giants in court with former star Neymar, who alleges he is owed a loyalty bonus from his time at the club.

Neymar was strongly linked with a return to Barca in the close season and reports suggested the Brazil forward was willing to drop the case if the club promised to re-sign him.

"This never stops does it? In August we were waiting for the transfer market to close, but the Neymar matter continues," Valverde added. 

"I've got nothing to say, it's an internal club issue and for the player on a contractual matter, it's not my concern.

"Has there been a press conference without Neymar's name being brought up? Let's try to do it once this season."

Neymar's Brazil team-mate Arthur was seen having dinner with the Paris Saint-Germain forward this week.

Last season the midfielder was criticised for travelling to Paris to attend Neymar's birthday shortly before Barcelona's Copa del Rey clash with Real Madrid.  

"I think Arthur learned a lot last season, one of those things was what you're talking about," Valverde added. "I think he's fine at the moment and hope things stay this way.

"It's not up to me to evaluate further than him going out for dinner with a friend. He's fine and I hope he stays that way for the rest of the season."

Barcelona have announced Carles Perez has agreed a new three-year deal.

Perez was in the last year of his contract but has committed his future to Camp Nou through to 2022.

Injuries to fellow attackers Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele have led to more opportunities for Perez this term.

The 21-year-old has made five LaLiga appearances and scored his first Barcelona goal in the 5-2 rout of Real Betis.

Barcelona, seeking a third consecutive title under Ernesto Valverde, are sixth in the LaLiga table after a 2-1 win over Villarreal last time out.

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