Doubting Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar 'ridiculous' - Luis Enrique

Luis Enrique says it would have been ridiculous to doubt Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar after the South American trio fired Barcelona into the quarterfinal of the Copa del Rey with a 3-1 win over Athletic Bilbao on Wednesday.

Barca had failed to win either of their opening two games since the turn of the year, while Neymar was without a goal since October in all competitions for his club.

However, all three were on target as the Blaugrana overturned a first-leg deficit against Athletic to keep alive their hopes of winning the Spanish Cup for a third consecutive season.

"We live in a world full of exaggerations and if the MSN have to prove themselves then we can switch off and go home," Luis Enrique said in his postgame news conference.

"If they don't score then they create goals. They're key players. You can't have any doubts about them, it would be ridiculous [to doubt them]."

Suarez opened the scoring with a volley, before Neymar doubled the home side's lead from the penalty spot. After Enric Saborit's goal levelled the tie up on aggregate, though, it required a third free kick from Messi in as many games to confirm Barca's place in the last eight.

"Tell me a game when Messi's not been decisive," Luis Enrique added of his match winner. "I hope he's here for a long time. There's no one like him. He's not only unique in terms of goals, but also in making his teammates better."

This was the Catalan side's first win of 2017, following defeat at San Mames and a draw in La Liga with Villarreal, but Luis Enrique insisted all three performances make him optimistic for what's still to come this season.

"The image my team have shown in these last three games is improved on 2016," he added. "They make me very proud as a manager.

"I've seen similar things in all the games. We've been in control of the play. Today, for example, Athletic had practically no chances. It makes me optimistic for what I see in training and when we compete.

"We weren't switched on for the goal and we were penalised. We're in a run where it takes very little for us to concede a goal and then we're not effective after that, but I'm sure that it will pass."