BARCELONA, April 3 (Reuters) - Barcelona manager Luis Enrique paid tribute to his squad’s strength in depth after they won 4-1 at Granada on Sunday without suspended talisman and La Liga top scorer Lionel Messi to stay on the heels leaders Real Madrid.
The coach rested centre backs Gerard Pique and Samuel Umtiti and started without captain Andres Iniesta but Barca claimed the points thanks to a tremendous display from Luis Suarez and an impressive showing by little-used striker Paco Alcacer.
“We would obviously like to have every player available all the time but it’s great when you can make up for absent players with the type of squad we have, because it is squads that win you trophies”, Luis Enrique told reporters.
“These games after international breaks are always special and a bit harder but we produced a solid performance from the start. The game became complicated with their equaliser in their only chance of the game but we managed to turn it around quickly and get a big scoreline which I think is a fair result.”
Alcacer was thrown on early after Rafinha was forced off with a knee injury and the former Valencia striker restored Barca’s lead in the second half and laid on the pass for Neymar to complete the scoring and net his 100th goal for the club.
“I‘m very happy with Paco, you have to praise his attitude throughout the season as he’s always been at the team’s disposition,” added the Barcelona coach.
“He was superb today, participating in two of the goals as well as scoring one and he was a constant danger for Granada.”
Barca trail Real by two points but will have the chance to climb above their rivals when they visit the Santiago Bernabeu on April 23. Zinedine Zidane’s side have a game in hand. (Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Ken Ferris)