So here we go again then. Liga returns to the Camp Nou and a pre-match presentation of the 15/16 trophy demonstrated Barça's intentions for this season. Another long title race is in store and Barcelona took the first step against Real Betis.
The game was also an opener to Gus Poyet's Spanish managerial career and you would struggle to find a harder place to get started. Luis Enrique meanwhile was becoming a veteran of the Barcelona job. In a particular occupation that rarely lasts more than two seasons, Enrique was heading into his third. The first problem he had to deal with was the absence of seven first team players. Javier Mascherano and Andrés Iniesta had both picked up injuries while Neymar continued his Olympic adventure with Brazil. This meant Samuel Umtiti and Denis Suárez made their full league debuts while Arda Turan filled in for Neymar.
|Shots on Target||12||2|
The game kicked off and Barcelona quickly settled into their usual rhythm. Aided by their two Supercopa games, Barça didn't appear to be suffering from any summer hangover. In fact, within six minutes they had taken the lead. Lionel Messi picked up the ball on the right hand side of the pitch and floated a cross-field diagonal ball into the Betis box. It was left by Dennis Suárez and met by the charging Jordi Alba. The full back drilled the ball back to where it came from and Turan was on hand to flick it in. A Betis defender scrambled to clear off the line but could only deflect it into the roof of the net as Arda contained his impressive early season form.
While Barça's attacking side was flowing well, there were some signs of defensive problems. The organisation wasn't quite at 100% which was allowing Betis chances to get in behind. Betis' best chance came from a foul from Dennis Suárez just outside the Barça box. After a short argument with the referee about the legitimacy of the free kick, Barça set up to defend this close range set piece. A populated wall sat in front of the ball while Claudio Bravo covered the other post. However, it all proved futile as Ruben Castro whipped the ball hard with power into Bravo's corner. The goalkeeper, who was rumoured to be playing his last game in a Barça shirt as he nears a transfer to Manchester City, got a hand to it but the power was too much. The away side had grabbed the equaliser in the 21st minute.
The Catalan club immediately went on the offensive and were unlucky not to be awarded a penalty in the 27th minute. A through ball from Messi had found Luis Suárez in the box and the striker was met with two hands on his back from Aissa Mandi. The Barça number 9 went down but the referee ruled nothing untoward.
The Betis box was becoming increasingly busy as Messi took up a more central role. A neat bit of skill from him allowed a shot to be fired away but it was quickly blocked. The follow-up effort from Dennis Suárez also met the same fate.
However, the home side did pull ahead late in the first half. Sergio Roberto, who was excelling in the right back position, picked out Messi on the edge of the area. The Argentine wrapped his foot around the ball and powered an effort low into the corner of the net. The 6ft 2 Antonio Adán dived but couldn't get close as Barça gained a 2-1 advantage.
Unsatisfied with the single goal cushion, Barcelona contained to press for their third goal. The Messi-Roberto connection was flowing well and it was the former who cut the ball back to find Suárez. The striker produced an inch-perfect finish to guide the ball into the far corner of the net and increase Barça's lead just before half time.
This dominant performance continued into the second half. Messi was seeing more and more of the ball and creating chances. Dennis Suárez had an effort as did his namesake Luis but Barça's next goal came from a counter attack. Barça's captain of the day, Messi dashed from his own half with the ball stuck to his feet. Turan drifted to the left while Sergio Busquets went right. Messi elected to find Turan who stopped the ball then played it back into the path of Messi. Unselfishly, Messi didn't shoot but crossed it for Suárez to tap in and increase Barcelona's advantage.
With the crowd just relocating their seats after celebrating the goal, they were quickly back on their feet. Busquets snatched the ball away and Turan took over. The Turkish player gave it to Messi who rattled off a shot across the keeper into the far corner. You do have to feel sympathy for Adán as almost all of the finishes for the goals were perfect but regardless, the game was won.
With the competition finished, Luis Enrique was allowed the luxury of bringing on fresh legs. Munir El Haddadi came on and Lucas Digne made his Liga debut.
As the game headed into the final minutes, Luis Suárez added another match ball to his collection. A free kick was awarded and the Uruguayan stepped up to take it. He hit it hard and with a curl that meant it was untouchable as it flew into the net for Barça's sixth.
Like the fans, the players may have considered the game over because Betis were allowed to grab an instant reply. Ruben Castro gathered the ball in the box and found the far corner to make it 6-2.
The game was a near perfect attacking performance accompanied with two losses of concentration. A Suárez hat-trick, a Messi brace and a goal from Turan sent the Camp Nou crowd home happy.
|Roll Call Info|
|Commenter list||#K-DREAMER, AbeJarvis, AllAboutStyle, Anders Thomassen, Anirudh_Kul, AraibKarim, AristoBarca, Artemis11, Ashraf Arefin, Bad_Karma_FCB, BarcelonaIsHot, Bithal, BlueRed, Daxterflames, DevilWithin, ElDiablo4, FZBoy, Korosensei, Lord Douglous' #1 Fan, Marsen11155, MayteeA, Mufti Yoga, My Name Is Dennis, NamesTroyResideInTheDMV, Piyush1, Ragnar_Lothbrok, SafaaLeon62, Staralfur, Steven Cordero, Swn.Culé, The GIF Oracle, TheGodfather21, Trifitology, VarmaFCB, ZTAhmad, asherdgreat1, avyator, chrisolin65, craig00000, darthvader17, el_uruguayo, feeya7, footballfordoze, godnkls, istiaque, justjonathan90, knorkinator, michael.olivier, mightyobie, milesbarca, nosrejadorable, saijaikumar, semperty, syredeathtrooper, vireyda, wiji|