The departure of Lionel Messi this summer marked the end of an era for Barcelona, and it is yet to be seen how the club will cope with losing the biggest star in their history. At the very least, the Catalans have got off to the new season with a win, beating Real Sociedad 4-2 at the Nou Camp on Sunday evening, a result that they will hope is indicative of the quality that still remains in the squad.
The first goal came from Gerard Piqué, who many fans justifiably regard as being the last living legend in the side. The defender, who recently took a pay-cut to help his club carry out three summer signings, used his head to get on the end of a Memphis Depay free-kick.
The next two Barça goals came from Martin Braithwaite, one in the first half and the other in the second, which makes him the first Danish player to score a brace in the history of La Liga. Julen Lobete and Mikel Oyarzabal got the Guipuzcoans back into the game with a goal each, but in the end, the equaliser never arrived. Instead, Barça wrapped things up in added time with a fourth goal, this one from Sergi Roberto.
22,000 home fans were allowed into the stadium, many of which wore Messi shirts and chanted his name during the tenth minute of the game in homage to the Argentine who wore the number 10 shirt before leaving for PSG.
Despite the positive start to the season, one game is little to go by and Barcelona have a long journey ahead of them, one that their fans will begin without the same confidence of previous seasons. It is common knowledge that the club is saddled with a huge amount of debt, not helped by the financial losses suffered as a result of the pandemic nor the failure of their plans to be part of the controversial European Super League which caused uproar and was abandoned just a couple of days after being announced.
Defending champions Atlético Madrid also got off to a winning start by beating Celta Vigo 2-1, as did Real Madrid by defeating Alaves 4-1. Most of the bookmakers still make Real Madrid favourites to win the league this time round, which would mean taking the title from their local rivals.
La Liga Results
Sunday 15 August
Celta Vigo 1 Atlético Madrid 2
Barcelona 4 Real Sociedad 2
Sevilla 3 Rayo Vallecano 0
Saturday 14 August
Cádiz 1 Levante 1
Mallorca 1 Real Betis 1
Alavés 1 Real Madrid 4
Osasuna 0 Espanyol 0
Friday 13 August
Valencia 1 Getafe 0