Barcelona shows it’s still very much alive in Spanish league

Barcelona’s 8-0 rout of Deportivo La Coruna was a lot more typical than their three consecutive losses

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That’s more like it.

Barcelona’s 8-0 rout of Deportivo La Coruna was a lot more typical than the three consecutive losses that sent the Spanish powerhouse into turmoil and raised doubts about whether it could still win the Spanish league.

Barcelona was back to its old self in Wednesday’s match at Deportivo, scoring at will and winning easily, just like it did most of the season until an inexplicable recent collapse.

“We needed this win. Not just for the three points, but also to boost our morale as a team,” Barcelona defender Marc Bartra said. “We have sent out a strong message.”

The victory kept the Catalan club ahead of its Madrid rivals, which also won their games on Wednesday. Atletico Madrid won 1-0 at Athletic Bilbao and Real Madrid defeated Villarreal 3-0.

Atletico and Barcelona both have 79 points with four matches left, while Real Madrid is one point behind.

“We needed a good result and the victory was crucial for us,” Barcelona coach Luis Enrique said. “We have a wonderful challenge ahead of us. And that challenge is to retain the league title. But there are still four games to go and I’m sure it’s not going to be easy.”

Wednesday’s goalfest was crucial to boost the team’s confidence after consecutive poor performances, especially by its trio of stars - Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar. They all scored against Deportivo, with Suarez finding the net four times to take his tally to 30 goals, one behind league leader Cristiano Ronaldo. Messi scored in his second-consecutive game and Neymar ended a five-game scoring slump.

“One of the best bits of news is that the three up front have found their scoring touch again,” Bartra said.

The huge win also was important to help dent the hopes of the team’s Madrid rivals, which had been on a frantic chase for the lead as the defending champions slipped.

“Nothing has changed,” Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said. “We were one point away from them yesterday and we are one point away today. We will keep going with our ideas and our football. We will continue with what we have been doing recently, nothing has changed.”

Barcelona’s next game is at home against Sporting Gijon on Saturday. Gijon defeated Sevilla 2-1 on Wednesday to leave the relegation zone for the first time after eight rounds.

Earlier this season, Barcelona beat Gijon 3-1 with two goals by Messi and one by Suarez.

Real Madrid, on a streak of eight league wins in a row, plays at 15th-place Rayo Vallecano, a team it has beaten 12 straight times, including 10-2 at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium this season.

Atletico Madrid, coming off eight victories in nine league games, hosts 12th-place Malaga, a team it lost 1-0 last year.

“I’ll repeat what I’ve already said, we only depend on ourselves,” Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone said. “Our goal is to do our best, and whatever happens to Barcelona, good for them. We only have one option, which is to win.”

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