Barcelona made a sparkling start to the defence of their La Liga title as they spanked six goals past a hapless Levante, without reply, within the opening 45 minutes.
The scoring didn't end there as Barcelona ran out eventual 7-0 winners at Camp Nou, with Leo Messi scoring two goals and Neymar coming off the bench to make his debut. It marked the first competitive match in charge for new boss Tata Martino, while Levante also had a new head coach in place in Joaquin Caparros, who has enjoyed better days in his long career.
Alexis tapped home into an open goal after Barcelona cut open Levante just three minutes into the new season. Messi did likewise from five yards before the game had even reached the quarter-hour mark.
The quick, one-touch passing in the centre of the pitch was too much for Levante's midfield pivot to cope with, and some static defending contributed to the massive scoreline as much as the home side's creativity did.
Barcelona ran out 7-0 winners over Levante but their team passing map looks a child's scribble. 661 passes in total! pic.twitter.com/pUnM6mJMUd— Squawka Football (@Squawka) August 18, 2013
Messi chased down a lost cause to win back the ball on the right flank before driving into the penalty area and helping to create the third goal, finished off by roaming right-back Dani Alves. Then Pedro was set free to cut in from the left and curl home the fourth—after only 26 minutes of play.
As if Levante were determined to make things harder on themselves, the next Barcelona goal came from the penalty spot after Adriano was fouled in the box.
Messi coolly converted the spot kick for his second and Barcelona's fifth, and there was still time for Xavi Hernandez to stab home between the keeper's legs a sixth first-half goal.
A double substitution at half-time for Levante and the undoubtedly relaxed atmosphere in the Barcelona camp stemmed the tide of chances in the second half, but Pedro managed to score the seventh and final goal after a calamitous back pass went straight to the Barcelona attackers.
Levante's first shot on target came in the 91st minute of the game, as Andreas Ivanschitz hit a straightforward free kick at the otherwise redundant Victor Valdes.
Key Player Grades
Leo Messi: A+
Argentinian superstar Leo Messi took all of 12 minutes to open his account for this season and show he's ready and capable of emulating his top-scoring feat of last season. His finish for the first goal was relatively straightforward, while he also scored a penalty, but he was impressive all-round in the first half as Barça destroyed their opponents.
Messi was hard-working and quick to distribute the ball in all areas of the attacking third of the pitch and was heavily involved in Dani Alves' goal.
His two goals took him past the 350-goal mark for his entire career.
Potentially one of the players with the most at stake following the arrival of Neymar this summer, Pedro received the chance to shine early from by the new boss, and he certainly took advantage.
Two goals on the opening day gives him a great start as he seeks to improve on the seven netted in the whole of last term, and Pedro's all-round approach was equally impressive.
Keylor Navas: B
Costa Rican goalkeeper Keylor Navas was beaten seven times by Barcelona, yet he can be one of the few Levante players to hold his head high.
Barcelona had 22 shots in total during the game, and Navas had to be alert to sweep up danger in his penalty area a number of times to keep the tally even as low as that. Some good one-on-one displays and confident claims in the air were also instrumental in preventing his side being battered even more heavily.
Barcelona have laid down the gauntlet early on this season; next up will simply be waiting to see what kind of response Real Madrid can come up with in their game against Real Betis.
The rest of the league have learnt nothing new—Barcelona are the team to beat in La Liga.