BARCELONA — La Liga is back, and FC Barcelona began its championship defense with a 6-2 win over Real Betis at the Camp Nou on Saturday.
Arda Turan got the scoring started in the seventh minute, as a fantastic cross from Lionel Messi found Jordi Alba onside who then served it up for the Turk to put into the back of the net.
Ruben Castro leveled the match in the 21st minute, as his free kick got though the fingertips of a diving Claudio Bravo to make it 1-1.
It looked like Luis Suarez should have won a penalty in the 27th minute, but the referee did not feel that way. Lionel Messi's shot at goal hit the crossbar in the 30th minute.
Messi got the Barça lead back in the 38th minute, as he curled in a golazo from outside the box.
Luis Suarez made it 3-1 in the 42nd minute, as Sergi Roberto's run opened up Suarez and "El Pistolero" gunned in the ball toward the far post for his first goal of the season. Lovely goal.
Luis Suarez made it 4-1 in the 56th minute. The counterattack led to Messi to Arda, back to Messi who found an open Luisito at the far post for the goal. Just two minutes later, Leo rocketed a goal toward the far post past a diving Antonio Adán to make it 5-1.
messi's goal pic.twitter.com/1HXiGSRpFO— ️️️️barca (@cuIegirI) August 20, 2016
Samuel Umtiti had a solid match overall, including a nice stop on a Betis attack in the 68th minute.
Luis Suarez got his hat trick in the 82nd minute, as he rifled in a golazo from a free kick. Go-la-zo!
Castro got a goal back for Betis in the 84th minute to make it 6-2.
Final: FC Barcelona 6-2 Real Betis
The main issue for FC Barcelona at home last season was the fact that FCB couldn't put away teams early, allowing teams to come back to equalize or even take the lead. Against Betis, Barça allowed last season's issue to return for a bit, but then turned the page.
My hope is that we see more 2-0 score lines than 1-1s. It was a bit funny at times last season on how FCB couldn't expand on a lead, but as the new season starts, it's not funny anymore. Mistakes happen and I accept that, but usually, it's been Barcelona's inability to execute the finish that leads to Barça's blown advantages. Maybe it's somewhat acceptable on the road, but there's no reason this continues on at the Camp Nou for a second straight season.
Lionel Messi is already in midseason form. With two goals in one assist, Leo dominated the match. It feels like there is new motivation for Messi. He looks more aggressive. Yes, it's the start of a new season and there are trophies to earn, but it feels like this season Messi will look to shut a few critics up while leading his team to greatness. Maybe it's the new hairstyle as well.
Luis Suarez hasn't stopped scoring. A hat trick for last season's Pichichi winner, as Luisito will be looking to make it back-to-back scoring titles.
The creativity Barcelona showed against Real Betis is a good sign for the season. Seeing Denis Suarez set up some opportunities for his teammates is something that gets Barça fans excited for the season. Denis had a solid match and so far, he's meriting wearing the No. 6 kit number.
The star of the Spanish Super Cup shined again vs. Betis. Arda Turan got the scoring started and had a nice match, including a "hockey assist" on Suarez's second goal. Let's be clear: If Arda remains consistent this season, there's no question Barcelona are winning La Liga. He can make that much of a difference. We all know Andres Iniesta is the No. 1 option at playmaking at the midfield position, but if Arda can come in during Liga and/or Copa del Rey matches and continue to play solid football, Barcelona won't miss a beat this season. Iniesta will need to be rested for UEFA Champions League matches, and that is when Arda Turan can come in and shine. Of course Arda will deserve playing time in big matches, but I'm sure the Turk knows his role and knows Don Andres is the first option. On the bright side, Arda knows if he plays well, Lucho will continue to call his name.
The Catalan media said this past week that Arda Turan is like a new signing. I actually have to agree. It feels like he's a new signing. Perhaps it's a new found confidence or maybe it's just that he's in better playing shape. Whatever it is, Arda Turan is finding his groove at FC Barcelona and it can already become one of the best things to happen to El Blaugrana this season.
9 10 7 pic.twitter.com/blfw6zl5I2— Emenderk (@Emenderkfcb10) August 20, 2016
La Liga is back. FC Barcelona got its championship defense started with a thunderous win at home.