Messi, Suarez, Paulinho on target in routine Barca win

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FC Barcelona restored their lead at the top of the Spanish La Liga standings to nine points after they beat visiting Levante 3-0 on Sunday.

Lionel Messi has returned to Barcelona after spending the Christmas and New Year period back in his native Argentina.

The referendum had direct ramifications for Barcelona who, on the day that it was held, chose to play their La Liga game against Las Palmas behind closed doors in response to police violence against would-be voters.

Aside from a Marc-Andre ter Stergen save to keep out Shaquell Moore in a one-on-one opportunity, Barca eased to victory, extending their run to 26 matches unbeaten in all competitions.

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The 25-year-old Brazilian, whose transfer is the third-biggest in football history, was not in attendance at the Camp Nou as the club's previous record recruit Ousmane Dembele started.

The three stars may not be given much time to settle back into their familiar surroundings wiThernesto Valverde's side back in action on Thursday in their Copa del Ray clash against Celta Vigo.

The deal saw Coutinho become the second most expensive footballer ever behind compatriot Neymar, who moved from Barcelona to Paris St Germain for 222 million euros in August.

It took only 12 minutes for them to break the deadlock at the Camp Nou - and surprise surprise, it came through Messi.

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Apart from the total 30 titles that he has collected with Barcelona, Messi has been honoured with the Ballon d'Or award a record five times.

In the 38 minute Barcelona did find their second goal when Luis Suarez latched onto an inch-perfect cross from Sergi Roberto just outside the box and arrowed the ball into the top left corner, 2-0.

However, Messi insists that he will continue with Barcelona regardless of Spain's political climate.

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