This is the Barca we’ve been waiting for
Barcelona picked up their first three home points of the new La Liga season against Real Valladolid with an imperious performance at the Camp Nou.
It was the kind of free-flowing, exciting, attacking showing that we had all been looking forward to after the club’s summer spending spree and with Xavi at the helm.
Real Valladolid barely managed a glimpse of Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s goal in the first half, while Barca scored two, hit the woodwork twice and completed 240 passes compared to just 98 by the visitors.
HIGHLIGHTS: #BarçaRealValladolid 4-0— LaLiga English (@LaLigaEN) August 28, 2022
❤️ Another brace from @lewy_official as well as goals from @Pedri and @SergiRoberto10 secured @FCBarcelona a win on home turf!#LaLigaSantander pic.twitter.com/tgfcguhy3i
The second half was a similar story with more Barca dominance. Lewandowski added another goal to make the game completely safe and then teed up Roberto for number four but in truth the result was never in doubt.
Barca now head to Sevilla with huge confidence after a superb performance. It’s usually a difficult place to go but Sevilla have started the season horribly, while Barca might just be feeling they are at the start of something special.
Jules Kounde finally makes his Barcelona debut
After being forced to sit out Barcelona’s opening two games of the season because he was not registered, Jules Kounde finally made his competitive debut for the Catalans against Real Valladolid.
Quite how Barca managed to register Kounde is the subject of plenty of speculation, but it’s being reported they used La Liga regulation article 92 which basically means Joan Laporta and Co. have provided a financial guarantee to LaLiga to be able to increase their spending limit.
Back on the pitch we saw Andreas Christensen miss out due to illness which saw Xavi line up with Alejandro Balde once again at left-back and Eric Garcia partnering Ronald Araujo in central defense. Kounde, perhaps surprisingly, started at right-back.
| Jules Koundé vs Real Valladolid.— Barça Buzz (@Barca_Buzz) August 28, 2022
- 76 Touches.
- 54/58 Passes.
- 2/3 Long Balls.
- 2 Chances Created.
- 1 Shot.
- 0 Times Dispossessed.
- 1 Goal Line Clearance.
- 0 Times Dribbled Past.
- 1 Block.
- 1 Interception.
- 3/4 Duels Won.
- 1 Foul Won. pic.twitter.com/oOSrLEHi5h
The Frenchman could hardly have asked for a gentler debut with the defender relatively untroubled, although he was called on to make an important goalline clearance in the second half.
Kounde said after the game he’s “comfortable” in both positions but would rather play at center-back. We all know that he, and Ronald Araujo are wasted on the right, but they may not have to play there for much longer if Xavi gets his wish for a new right-back before the transfer window closes.
Lewandowksi already making La Liga history
Robert Lewandowski opened the scoring for the hosts with a lunging finish to knock a great cross from Raphinha past former Barcelona goalkeeper Jordi Masip.
The strike was the Poland international’s third in three La Liga games for his new club which means he has already written his name into the history books in Spain.
1 - At 34 years and 7 days, Robert Lewandowski is the oldest player to score three goals in his first three LaLiga games in the 21st century, beating current teammate Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang 's record from last season (32 and 247). Experience. pic.twitter.com/3phNXwnYUS— OptaJose (@OptaJose) August 28, 2022
Of course Lewandowski being Lewandowski he didn’t stop at one. The striker added his second of the night after the break to grab another record. He should have had a hat-trick too but somehow hit the post which allowed Sergi Roberto to add the fourth.
4 - Robert Lewandowski is the first player to score four goals in his first three LaLiga games since Radamel Falcao for Atletico Madrid in 2011 and the first to do so for Barcelona in the entire 21st century. Impact. pic.twitter.com/pDLAXvn9uy— OptaJose (@OptaJose) August 28, 2022
Lewandowski has certainly hit the ground running at Barcelona and looks like he’s going to have a very fun campaign, particularly with the likes of Dembele, Raphinha and Ansu Fati providing the service.
How many will Pedri score this season?
Barcelona’s second of the night came from the wonderful right boot of Pedri. The 19-year-old waltzed into the area and curled a gorgeous finish past Masip with some confidence.
Goals were an issue for the teenager for the majority of last season, so much so that Xavi even admitted he’d told the youngster he needs to shoot more, which seemed to help.
Pedri ended the campaign with five goals in all competitions but you suspect he will beat that record and then some in the current campaign.
The midfielder scored two in his last four games of last season, bagged a couple against Pumas in the Gamper Trophy and has now opened his account for 2022-23.
The only criticism that sceptics have managed to level at Pedri during his stellar rise have been his lack of goals but if he can start scoring regularly then the sky really is the limit for this incredible talent.
Xavi tips Eric to be future Barca captain
Another young player who thrived against Real Valladolid was Eric Garcia. The arrivals of Jules Kounde and Andreas Christensen looked bad news for the 21-year-old but he’s played every minute so far and looked in great shape.
Against Real Valladolid it was no different and the Spain international will be hoping he can continue in the starting XI despite the fierce competition for places in the backline.
Eric found it tough going last season after returning from Manchester City but has always had Xavi’s backing and the coach was at it again after the match.
“He had a great game, having him is wonderful, he’s competitive, he gets the ball out, he’s a hell of a professional,” he said. “He could be captain at 21 years old.”
Xavi’s comments come as something of a surprise, particularly as Ronald Araujo has always looked the most likely player to take over the armband next.
However, with Sergio Busquets looking very much like he’s in his last campaign at Barca, it’s a topic that’s likely to provoke plenty of debate this season.