FC Barcelona overwhelmed Real Betis in their first match of the league campaign, 6-2 on Satruday evening. An opening goal from Arda Turan, a Luis Suarez hattrick that included a stunning free kick, and two wonder goals from Lionel Messi had Barcelona looking in mid-season form. Lets look at the good, the bad, and the ugly from the match.
Lionel Messi: Before anyone else is mentioned, one has to look to Messi and his man of the match worthy performance. He was everywhere tonight and anyone could tell he left his mark on the game without including his two goals. As for his two goals, they were both goals you’d expect from Lionel, but at the same time are left in awe.
The first goal saw him take a simple pass from Sergi Roberto (more on him later) and cut the ball to his left before firing it from outside the box past Betis goalkeeper Adán to make 2-1 to Barca. His second was from a similar distance. He took advantage of the space that was surprisingly granted to him (Come on Betis, really?) and once again slotted it into Adán’s net from the outside of the box to make it a 5-1 game.
Messi looks to be in mid-season form, and Barca’s opponents should be worried.
Luis Suárez: The man who’s key, clutch goals down the stretch last season helped propel Barca to the La Liga crown looks like he hasn’t slowed down one bit. Suárez also looks to be in peak condition as he netted his 10th career hat-trick for the Blaugrana. His first was off a precise pass from Roberto on the outside. He scored from what seemed an improbably angle that made it 3-1 and essentially sealed the game for Barcelona. He locked up his brace with a tap in from short distance after a quick counter attack off a Betis corner kick. Messi brought the ball up from the midfield, and after quick one-two with Turan, he squared up Suárez for his brace.
Suárez’s third goal was perhaps the most impressive from anyone on the night. Perhaps looking to one up Ruben Castro’s free kick goal for Betis earlier in the match, Suárez struck the free kick with such precision that neither the wall or Adán could put a touch on it.
Like Messi, Suarez looks to be in the scoring droves mood, add in a returning Neymar, and Barcelona looks set to continue its dominance in La Liga.
Sergi Roberto: Roberto has gone through a transformation since the arrival of Luis Enrique, becoming a valuable utility man when Barca were in a pinch. Now it seems like he is set to become the new starting right-back. Roberto played exceptionally in the defense for the most part, showing some shades of Dani Alves as he contributed two assists from the right-back position. Replacing one of the best right-backs of all time is a tall order, but Sergi seems prepared to compete for his spot. He’s taken the first step ahead of Aleix Vidal.
Claudio Bravo: Okay, not so much bad, but rather sad. This is Bravo’s final game for FC Barcelona as reports of him being sold to Manchester City and Pep Guardiola are intensified. Robert Fernandez, Barcelona’s sports director confirmed that there was an agreement in principle to sell Bravo to the English club. His family was on the pitch taking pictures before the game with the rest the team, another sign signifying his exit. For a loyal servant to the club, it will be tough. The Barcelona faithful thought so as well, as they chanted his name many times throughout the match. Gracias, Claudio.
The second Betis goal: Although the match was well in hand, Betis’ second goal of the night was poor set piece defending from Barcelona, with Sergi Roberto, who otherwise had a good game. It has been a rare sight during Luis Enrique’s time as Barca manager. But with not much else going wrong or Barcelona in this match, this will have to do.
Undiano Mallenco: The referee did not have his best day, denying Barcelona what looked to be a clear penalty on Luis Suárez and letting several fouls go when the game was still close.
Match schedule: It will be a full eight days before Barcelona plays again. It doesn’t get much uglier than that.