Valverde happy to be ahead of Real Madrid

After just three La-Liga games, Barcelona is four points clear of Real Madrid – and that pleases coach Ernesto Valverde.

Barcelona players celebrate a goal in their 5-0 rout of Espanyol on Saturday.   -  Getty Images

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde is happy to have pushed ahead of rival Real Madrid early in the La-Liga season after a 5-0 thrashing of Espanyol.

A Lionel Messi hat-trick and goals from Gerard Pique and Luis Suarez saw Barca continue its perfect start to the league campaign on Saturday.

The result marked a third win from as many league games for Barca, who is top and four points ahead of Madrid after Zinedine Zidane's men drew again.

Valverde said he was pleased to be ahead of Madrid, although he conceded it meant little so early in the season.

"The distance is not significant, but it is better to be ahead than behind," he told a news conference. "You never know what can happen. It doesn't mean anything, but being ahead is always good."

Ousmane Dembele made his Barcelona debut off the bench, setting up Suarez for the sealer at Camp Nou. Valverde was satisfied with what he saw from the France international, who arrived from Borussia Dortmund for a reported €105million last month.

"I really liked his debut, as I did Paulinho's," the coach said. "The idea is that they will gradually adapt to the team."