Luis Enrique described Lionel Messi as “special” after seeing the Argentina superstar orchestrate a 5-0 mauling of basement club Levante at Estadio Ciudad de Valencia on Sunday.
The three-time Champions League winner missed a first-half penalty after being tripped by Loukas Vyntra but grabbed the final goal in a one-sided rout and claimed two assists as the La Liga leaders finally clicked.
He set up Neymar for the opening goal and also teed up the Brazil poster boy’s replacement, Sandro Ramirez. Ivan Rakitic and Pedro were also on target in the biggest win of Enrique’s tenure in the Spanish top flight and the Camp Nou coach reserved praise for Messi.
“He’s special,” he is quoted as saying by Mundo Deportivo. “His team-mates know he can make spectacular assists. I love these combinations.”
Rakitic grabbed the first goal of his Barcelona career since arriving from Sevilla in the summer after Vyntra had been sent off to make it 2-0 to the visitors and the Croatia international was relieved to open his account for the Catalans.
“Thank God the goal went in,” the midfielder said. “They’d begun joking about it [not scoring] in the locker room.
“The important thing for me is to help the team. I am grateful for every minute I play. I’ll do my best.
“It’s important we push on. We know we have to keep fighting and fighting for everything.”
Barca have yet to concede a goal in all competitions this season and will be targeting a fifth straight win in the Primera Division when they travel to Estadio La Rosaleda on Wednesday to take on Malaga.
The home side are currently priced 8.42 in the match betting and the draw is quoted 4.75. Barcelona can be backed at 1.35 in the 90-minutes market.