Barcelona Open La Liga with a 7-0 Demolition of Levante
La Liga—Camp Nou, Barcelona.
BARCELONA 7-0 LEVANTE
Goals—Sanchez, Messi (x2), Alves, Pedro (x2), Xavi
The Gerardo Martino era at Barcelona began with a bang as his charges tear apart Levante at the Camp Nou. Some of the side's less-heralded players, Pedro and Cesc Fabregas in particular, shone alongside the genius of Lionel Messi, while Andres Iniesta only made his entrance from the bench.
Neymar was another who had to settle with a late introduction, having been afforded time to regain his fitness. His day will surely come.
Levante provided uninspiring opposition and were outclassed from first to last. The contest was over before the season was 20 minutes old and the Frogs will need to improve swiftly if this is to be anything other than an extremely testing year.
Barcelona: Valdes; Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Adriano; Xavi, Busquets, Fabregas; Sanchez (Neymar) , Messi (Iniesta), Pedro (Tello).
Levante: Navas, Navarro, Rodas, Barral, El Zhar (Ivanschitz), Rubén, Juanfran, Xumetra, Sergio (Pallardó), Pedro López and Simao (El Adoua).
And that is that. Neymar's debut is outshone by the stunning performance of many of his teammates and of the side inherited by Gerardo Martino. A historic outing and 'Tata' will be hoping that there will be many more over the coming months. Dire stuff from Levante, who need to improve quickly.
'86- Neymar booked for a cynical trip on Juanfran. He's certainly more aggressive than Messi!
'86- Fabregas continues to be the heartbeat of the team tonight. Sends another cutely flicked ball over to Neymar, who can only fire his shot against Navas. A disappointing finish, but more glorious stuff from Cesc.
A lull here at the Nou Camp. Barca are cruising and Levante are shattered, the two groups of players face hugely contrasting campaigns.
'72- Pedrito with the seventh. Horrible stuff (again) from Rodas (who doesn't look like a natural). The defender knocks a ball gently towards Navas, Fabregas nips in and sets up Pedro.
'70- Iniesta replaces Messi...the Messi/Neymar combination will have to wait.
So, now we begin to assess whether Johan Cruyff's prediction-of two captains and one ship-is realised. Messi and Neymar begin to link up and combine...this one could be exceptional.
'67- Rodas booked for an ugly one on Fabregas
Here he comes...A Nou Camp welcome to Neymar (who replaces Alexis)
'60- Messi drives through the centre of the Levante side, tearing past the opposition like the they weren't there. His pass-cum-shot is gathered gratefully by Navas.
'57- Pique again finds himself clean on goal, but his half-hearted lob is met by Navas once again. The Costa Rican stopper has been impressive...although he will surely have nightmares about this one.
'55- Barca find themselves with a huge surplus of men in Levante's box, the ball finds its way-somewhat unfortunately-to Gerard Pique, whose volley is aimless.
'52- Fabregas with another sweet chip into Messi's feet, flicking it into has path, only for Navas to leap out and smother the opportunity.
'49- Juanfran leaps to block Alexis following a tempting cross from Pedro.
The teams return to the pitch for the second half of action. At 6-0, this one was over as a contest long ago. Can Levante salvage any dignity, or are Barcelona about to make their dreadful opening day even worse?
Half-time in Catalonia...will Levante even bother coming out again after the break? It's already 6-0 for Barcelona.
Terrific pass from Cesc, sandwiched within a 1-2 from Xavi who delicately volleys the return past the out-stretched Keylor Navas-who must be heart-broken.
According to The Guardian, Levante's record defeat was 6-0 against Barcelona back in the 1960s. Could we be on for a record-breaking scoreline tonight.
'41- Messi makes no mistake, and spanks home the penalty to send Barcelona in at the break, five goals to the good.
'40- Penalty to Barcelona: Not with a drizzle, but with a downpour.
'38- Ambling towards half-time now. Barcelona looking as comfortable as can be, 4-0 up and cruising.
'33- A Barcelona corner flies out of play- at least Martino has something to work on. 4-0 still here in Catalonia.
'32- Xavi uses Messi as a decoy and forces a smart save from Navas following a free kick.
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