Lionel Messi scored a brilliant hat-trick to help FC Barcelona keep pace with Real and Atletico Madrid at the summit of La Liga and coach Luis Enrique said after that game that the Argentine captain has never allowed his standards drop in this entire season.

Luis Enrique picked an unchanged squad for the first time this season as FC Barcelona comfortably emerged as winners against Deportivo La Coruna in a crucial away game. Leo Messi was the star of the show again for FC Barcelona and coach Luis Enrique was full of praise for his number 10 after the game.

“He has been at a very high level throughout the season. At no time has it lowered,” Luis Enrique said after the match.

Luis Enrique has been criticized for his rotation policy but, in spite of playing with the same XI which played against Atletico Madrid on last weekend, the Andalusian chose to defend his strategy. He said: “There isn’t one style of play to which I have to remain faithful. I put out the 11 that I think can work best. The more players we can get to join the cause, the stronger we will become.”

The FC Barcelona boss also lauded the improvement made by his players, especially defenders, after recent setbacks. “We have always had defensive intensity away from Camp Nou. The improvement has come through creating danger in the opposition half and in breaking up their passing moves.”

“Anoeta was a while ago now. During a season there are bad games, good games and average ones. And there is always a team in front of you who are also playing.”

Meanwhile, FC Barcelona full back Jordi Alba has applauded his team mates for a quick recovery after the recent slump in form of the club. Alba said that results are finally beginning to tally with FC Barcelona’s performance levels.

“We’re creating a good dynamic between results and performances and we hope it will be like this until the end of the season,” Jordi Alba was quoted as saying by Sport.

“The team has come out with more intensity against Atletico and Elche and today against Deportivo. We were intense from start to finish and that shows when you have a team with so much quality.”