Camp Nou will feature a few new faces this season, but the usual suspects want to remind you this is the same brilliant Barcelona.
Neymar's debut proved a success and new manager Gerardo "Tata" Martino claimed his first silverware—albeit of the minor, preseason variety—as Barcelona routed Neymar's old team, Santos, 8-0 on Friday for the Joan Gamper Trophy.
Cesc Fabregas scored twice, and Lionel Messi, Alexis Sanchez, Pedro, Adriano and Jean Marie Dongou added a goal each as Barcelona easily claimed the trophy for the third time in four years. Santos defender Leo put the ball in the Brazilian side's net in the first half for an own goal.
Martino made nine changes to the Barcelona side that drew 2-2 at Lechia Gdansk in Poland on Tuesday, drafting in a full-strength side for Santos' visit. The Argentine replaced Tito Vilanova in July after Vilanova stepped down for health reasons.
Neymar, who signed for Barcelona in June, started the second straight match from the bench but made his home debut as a substitute, entering the match at halftime. After leading Brazil to the FIFA Confederations Cup title in June, Neymar joined up with Barca late last month.
The 21-year-old attacker also featured as a substitute Tuesday in the 2-2 draw with Lechia Gdansk, but that day he did not play with Messi, who had already been subbed out. This time the two shared the pitch for about 15 minutes before Messi departed in the 63rd minute. Both were involved in the build-up to Cesc's goal early in the second half.
Neymar then registered his first Barcelona assist, setting up Fabregas' emphatic, top-corner strike in the 66th minute. He also hit the crossbar in the 89th minute after being set up by Dongou.
(GIF by Bleacher Report)
For all the excitement over Neymar's home debut, though, fans might be even more pleased with their team's performance in the first half. Playing their trademark possession-and-passing game, Barca dominated Santos from the start and had the match wrapped up by halftime.
The Catalans' tiki-taka style sparkled on the fourth goal, converted by Pedro in the 28th minute. The move started at the far end of the pitch with goalkeeper Victor Valdes, who received a back pass from Gerard Pique. After a few passes around the back line, Andres Iniesta burst forward on the left side before laying off for Xavi.
Xavi then played through for Alexis Sanchez. Dani Alves overlapped on the left and received Alexis’ pass before squaring for Pedro in front of the goal. With Santos picked apart, Pedro needed only to tap into the net to complete a beautiful sequence.
(GIF by Bleacher Report)
Barcelona won the Spanish title last season, easily outpacing rivals Real Madrid in La Liga. But Vilanova's team fell short in the Champions League, losing 7-0 over two legs to Bayern Munich in the semifinals.
Friday's performance, while not against a team of Bayern's caliber, hinted that Barca could be back to their best this season. Champions League winners in 2009 and 2011, they should should rank among the favorites again this season with Neymar joining Messi—the four-time defending Ballon d'Or winner—in the star-studded squad.
Relief to see Barcelona can still play the most irresistible football in the world. Putting on quite a show against Santos.— Cristian Nyari (@Cnyari) August 2, 2013
Barcelona play friendlies against Thailand and a Malaysia XI next week before opening the 2013-14 La Liga season with a home match against Levante on Aug. 18.
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