Barcelona started La Liga with a narrow, tough, unexciting, yet huge win at San Mamés against Athletic Bilbao, with a lone goal from Luis Suárez, perhaps the only highlight of an uninspired afternoon from both teams. Here's a few takeaways from Sunday:
1. Luck is not on Barça's side so far. The Blaugrana got extremely lucky in their Treble-winning season in the medical department. The only true serious injury was the one that caused Vermaelen to miss the whole campaign, but that was something the Catalans could cope with. Other than that, just a slight few players suffered from little knocks or minor muscle issues, but right now things are out of control. Douglas and Adriano have some problems, Alba just came back from a tricky hamstring, and now the team loses Alves and Busquets for who knows how long. Luis Enrique rolls the dice with a thin squad in hopes that it doesn't get plagued by injuries. So far, not so good.
2. Neymar is dearly missed. We covered this before, but now it's specifically about Sunday. Because Messi is now more of a creator and distributor and Suárez is the true finisher, the Brazilian is the ‘MSN' member responsible for breaking down the opponent with dribble moves and moments of individual magic. Some of his amazing runs where he goes through everybody were much needed against a compact Bilbao defense, and that theoretically would have opened the space for the other two. That would be useful against anybody, but Ney's absence certainly made things a lot more difficult for the Blaugrana offense.
3. Thankfully we've already gone through San Mamés. Unless these teams meet again in the Copa del Rey, Barça will only have to face Athletic again in 2016, at Camp Nou. One of the most difficult games of any La Liga season has already been played in the opener, and since Barça got a win, it's good to know we won't have to face Bilbao for a while.