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The Spain international believes his side did well to battle to a 1-0 win over Espanyol, while Javier Mascherano has stressed that Lionel Messi cannot be at his best in every game

Andres Iniesta insists Barcelona are playing as well as they ever have following their hard-fought 1-0 win over Espanyol on Friday.

A solitary strike from Alexis Sanchez settled a tense derby clash at Camp Nou as the Liga champions moved four points clear of Atletico Madrid at the top of the table.

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And Iniesta maintains that the team is happy with their form as long as they continue to win games.

"There are matches with good phases and bad phases," he was quoted as saying by the club's official website.

"We're counting nearly all of our games as victories and that should give us confidence to improve and keep on winning games.

"We're playing just as well as we always have. I don't have the impression that we're playing poorly.

"Everything can be improved and we need to keep on growing. We don't lack intensity or the right attitude in this team but, at times, matches can end up like tonight's."

Friday's encounter was the fourth game in a row in which Lionel Messi has failed to score but compatriot Javier Mascherano was quick to defend the Argentina star.

"Messi perhaps didn't have his best night but we can't pretend that [it's possible] for him to be at his peak everyday. He is a vital player for us," he said.

Full-back Martin Montoya added that Espanyol made life extremely difficult for Barcelona with their high-pressing game and stressed his desire to continue his run in the first team.

"It was one of our weaker matches. We knew that it would be a complicated match. They pressured us high up the pitch, they didn’t cede control of the midfield. But we won and we have to continue on this path," he said.

"I've been able to play in four matches and I have to take advantage of my chances and keep on working. I've always said that I'd like to stay here. One can always find a place to play - but I know that I'm with the best team in the world."

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