The Catalans started their La Liga campaign with a 4-2 win at the Camp Nou.
FC Barcelona won their opening match in La Liga, beating Real Sociedad 4-2 at the Camp Nou. The game had a crowd in the stadium, with Martin Brathwaite winning the man of the match award. At the tenth minute, the fans chanted Messi’s name, praised Pique for the wage cut, and opened the scoring.
Ronald Koeman went with the ‘safest’ lineup he could opt for. Neto starting in goal, Gerard Pique and Eric Garcia were in defence. Alba and Dest played as full-backs. The midfield was the same as last season in De Jong, Busquets, and Pedri, which was a surprise.
The front line had Memphis, Brathwaite, and Griezmann. It was nice to see Garcia get his debut for the game. It was a 4-3-3 formation from the manager.
The first half started with Barcelona playing on the front foot, attacking Sociedad. In the first minute, the team had a chance when Memphis released Brathwaite behind the defence. But, his shot was saved by the goalkeeper. The team was in the mood to attack.
Memphis, in particular, was very much fired up to attack. In the image below, you can see how he flicks the ball over the defender. The crowd were on their feet, but the defender brought him down.
Koeman said before the game that the team has to do more with the set pieces. This is what we saw in the game last night. The team came very close to scoring in the ninth minute when Memphis put in the cross. Alba plays the corner short to the Dutchman, who plays it in. Greizmann was at the end of it, but his bicycle kick was just wide of the target. There was another chance for the Frenchman from the corner, but his header hit the post.
The goal came in the 20th minute, where Memphis put the free-kick in, to find Pique. The number 3 heads it home, giving the keeper no chance whatsoever to save. Given the context of the situation, it was a great moment. The player had taken a massive wage cut just hours before, and it was all over the media. Fans around the world were praising Pique for leading by example. He gave Barca the lead in the game.
The team exploited a lot of spaces throughout the game and had a few chances. They were not clinical enough in front of the goal. After the cooling break, Sociedad played a little better. They were having possession of the ball, trying to attack Barcelona. Eric Garcia made a couple of crucial interceptions to keep Sociedad from scoring. Not so bad for his debut game for the club.
The second goal came at the end of the first half, which was significant going into the second half. Garcia wins the ball high up the pitch, showing his bravery. Frenkie takes the ball forward, makes that run into the space. He goes wide to the right-hand side and puts the ball into the box. Several players were in the box, but the ball found Martin Brathwaite, who headed it into the net.
Jordi Alba had a straightforward chance of making it three for Barcelona at the start of the second half. He could not score, but he was offside anyway. But minutes later, the Danish scored his second goal, making it 3-0 for Barcelona. Memphis gave the ball to Alba, who gave it to Brathwaite to score.
This was when Barcelona stopped concentrating on the pitch. La Real was allowed back into the game, scoring two goals. The second goal was unfair as the free-kick was controversial, and so was the booking for Nico. But in extra time, Sergio Roberto scored the fourth goal for Barcelona. It was an easy tap-in to kill the game from a Brathwaite assist.
There were plenty of goals and plenty of attacks, but the Catalans got the job done in the end. It was just the first game, but there was a lot of quality in the team. There are promising signs in all areas of the pitch. The next match is against Athletic Club at the San Mamés Stadium, a massive test for Koeman and his men.