Barcelona eased to a 4-0 win over Deportivo La Coruna on Sunday and restored their six-point lead over Atletico Madrid at the top of LaLiga, but lost Paco Alcacer to injury ahead of El Clasico.
Doubles for Luis Suarez and Paulinho secured the victory for Ernesto Valverde‚Äôs side at Camp Nou, where Deportivo, who are battling to avoid relegation, offered little to trouble the Catalan giants.
While the hosts won with ease, the absence of the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system from Spain‚Äôs top flight, where it will be introduced next season, again appeared to cost Barca what would have been a stunning rabona goal from Suarez in first-half injury time.
The Blaugrana also lost Alcacer to a muscle injury in the first half, leaving the forward out for three weeks and rendering him unavailable for the all-important showdown with struggling title holders Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu next Saturday.
Andres Iniesta was withdrawn as a precaution with the match won early in the second half, while key men Suarez and Lionel Messi, who was impressive throughout and orchestrated his team‚Äôs attack but missed a second-half penalty, appeared to emerge unscathed.
The match was played at a low-key tempo for much of the first half, but Barcelona were firmly in charge throughout and saw a Suarez goal ruled out for offside as early as the sixth minute.
Messi twice drew saves from Ruben Martinez, as did Aleix Vidal, who came on as a substitute to replace Alcacer with 21 minutes gone.
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