Well that was fun, wasn't it?
Unless you're a Levante fan; or even a Real Madrid fan.
Tata Martino got his first Liga win as FC Barcelona manager as El Blaugrana dominated Levante 7-0 at the Camp Nou on Sunday.
Lionel Messi and Pedro grabbed a brace each as both players looked good. Neymar made his debut in the 62nd minute. The Brazilian didn't need to do much, as the game was already won by the time he came on. Dani Alves, Xavi, and Alexis Sanchez got a goal each as well.
And Victor Valdes got a shutout! Nice! Given that Levante only had four shots on goal and only one of those shot was on target.
A near flawless performance by El Blaugrana.
Time for me to give out "The Good, Bad, & the Ugly" of this game:
The Good/Great: Cesc Fabregas
Cesc Fabregas was one of the most talked about players this offseason-mainly by the British media-as a player who may be on his way out of Barcelona. Not only did Cesc not want to leave, he mentioned he wanted to perform well at the Camp Nou.
Mission accomplished, Cesc.
Lia's father had a terrific preseason and continued his tremendous play against Levante. Cesc was the leader in the midfield as it seemed that all goal-scoring plays went through him. Cesc had three assists in the game. Fabregas had 11 assists all year last season, and he's certainly on his way to breaking that mark this season.
When Thiago Alcantara left, many people wondered who will step up for Barça. While Sergi Roberto will certainly get his shot, having Cesc Fabregas play at this level certainly eases things up at midfield. Tata has already shown that he will rotate his players. The Cesc-Iniesta-Xavi rotation along with Roberto and Jonathan Dos Santos will certainly keep Barcelona relatively fresh at playing midfield.
The Bad: Levante's defense
I don't have much to say about Levante's defense, except that it was very, very bad. I know they might have the worst defense in La Liga, but to be down 6-0 at halftime is ridiculous for any first division team in any league. That sloppy play that set up Barça's seventh goal was the icing on the horror cake for the visiting team.
The Ugly: Levante's uniforms
I don't know who approved of Levante's away kits, but they are just as ugly as Barcelona's "Tequila Sunrise" road kits of last season. That shade of green doesn't look good.
Levante's kits looked like nursing scrubs.
But I guess the kits weren't as bad as Levante was in the first half of the game. Levante's road kit looks as bad as their defense.
What We Learned?: Barça's Pressing Game is Back!
Against Levante, we learned that FC Barcelona's pressing game is back! For too long, we haven't see this team press hard much as they did on Sunday.
It feels like it's 2008-09 again.
I know it was against Levante, but still, it was a great feeling to see Barça attack so strongly. It has been needed in years past-especially in Champions League play-and it looks like Tata's tactics will shred Liga opponents all year long. We'll see how it does against stronger teams like Real Madrid as well as CL opponents, but for now, it's great to see Messi, Alexis, and Pedrito attack and not just pass, pass, and pass for "the perfect goal." Tata is teaching his players to take risks and it's needed.
What To Lookout For?: Defending the Counterattack.
As previously mentioned, Levante did not threaten FC Barcelona during this game. I am interested in seeing how Tata's defense will defend a strong counterattack. Gerard Pique came up the pitch a bit too many times, in my opinion, and Javier Mascherano didn't look bad. But I also want to see Marc Bartra and Carles Puyol play soon to see how they play in Tata's defense.
Real Madrid is always a threat, but my concern for this defense is not La Liga, it's in Champions League action. Will fatigue come into play later on in the competitive season? Of course it will, to some extent, but we'll have to wait and see if Tata's tactics keeps the defense fresh enough to keep up with some of these counterattacking teams.
What's Next?: Spanish Supercopa
FC Barcelona will travel to Madrid to face Atletico Madrid in the first leg of the Spanish Supercopa. Look for Jordi Alba to start, as well as Andres Iniesta and Neymar.
Xoel's Final Word
It was great to see FC Barcelona in full force, as they crushed Levante 7-0 at the Camp Nou. The team felt comfortable, and seeing Alexis and Pedro play well is an encouraging thing, as they both had mediocre seasons last season.
Messi was Messi, and Cesc Fabregas is showing the world why this will be a statement season for him.
Neymar will fully adjust to the team soon enough, so I'm not worried about that.
Of course this team is good-I mean-great enough to win La Liga. But I'm waiting for the defense to be truly tested, as that will show us if this team is good enough to win the UEFA Champions League.
A new season has begun.
FC Barcelona began their title defense with a dominating win at the Camp Nou.
The road to back-to-back Liga titles is a long one.
But for now, the focus turns to the Supercopa and Atletico Madrid.
Xoel, The Voice of FC Barcelona