Barcelona kicked off the defence of their La Liga title with a 3-0 win over Alaves at the Camp Nou on Saturday. Ernesto Valverde’s men found it tough going but once again Lionel Messi provided the inspiration with a clever free-kick. Philippe Coutinho added a second before Messi hit his second late on.
Valverde gave us a few surprises with his starting line-up. Philippe Coutinho was left on the bench with Sergi Roberto starting in midfield. Ousmane Dembele also got the nod from the start.
Barcelona took a little bit of time to get going in the first half but started to carve out chances as half-time approached.
The closest they came was a Messi free-kick which looked destined for the top corner, until it crashed off the crossbar and rebounded to safety.
Dembele also had a good chance after he was played in, but he rushed his shot and hit it straight at goalkeeper Fernando Pacheco.
Valverde made a change at the break as he sought some extra inspiration in attack. Off went Nelson Semedo, with Roberto reverting to right-back ,and on came Coutinho.
Yet Barcelona still looked a little short in attack, until they won another free-kick on the edge of the box. This time Messi made no mistake, rolling the ball under the wall and past goalkeeper Pacheco.
A couple of minutes later he almost doubled Barcelona’s lead with a brilliant shot that clipped the outside of the post. Suarez also went close but his shot was saved by Pacheco at his near post.
Coutinho was the man to make the game safe inside the last 10 minutes. Arthur found him on the edge of the box, and he dribbled inside, beat a couple of players before lashing home.
The only thing was Messi wasn’t quite finished. He grabbed his second of the match in stoppage time, taking a pass from Luis Suarez on his chest, before turning and firing low into the bottom corner.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Semedo (Coutinho), Pique, Umtiti, Alba; Roberto, Busquets (Vidal), Rakitic, Messi, Suarez, Dembele (Arthur).
Goals: Messi (64’, 92’), (Coutinho 83’)
Alaves: Pacheco, Aguirregabiria, Laguardian, Maripan, Duarte, Torres (Adrian Marin), Jony (Borja Baston), Wakaso, Manu Garcia, Ibai Gomez, Ruben Sobrino.