Messi, Ronaldo and Neymar Watch: Barcelona and Real Madrid Notch Opening Wins

Michael CummingsWorld Football Lead WriterAugust 18, 2013

BARCELONA, SPAIN - AUGUST 18:  Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona duels for the ball with David Navarro Pedros of Levante UD during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and Levante UD at Camp Nou on August 18, 2013 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
David Ramos/Getty Images

Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar started a new season Sunday as Barcelona and Real Madrid posted victories in their opening fixtures of the 2013-14 Liga BBVA campaign.

Barcelona raced to a 6-0 halftime lead before coasting to a 7-0 win against an outclassed Levante. Real Madrid came from behind to defeat Real Betis, 2-1, in a thriller.

In victory, both sides gave winning debuts to new managers.

The following takes a closer look at the individual contributions of Messi, Ronaldo and Neymar on Sunday.


Messi at the Double

Messi scored two goals against Levante, giving himself a quick start on the new season's individual scoring race. Last season, the Argentina international led La Liga with 46 goals.

His first strike of the new campaign came in the 12th minute. Cesc Fabregas chested down the ball for Messi, who took possession and exchanged passes with Pedro before finishing in the bottom corner.

GIF via @emenderk

Messi scored again in the 42nd minute, converting a penalty that made the score 5-0.

He came close to adding a third goal in the 54th minute after latching onto Cesc's superbly chipped pass in the box.

Messi was also involved in Barca's fourth goal, setting up Pedro with a clever pass through the Levante defense in the 26th minute.

Andres Iniesta replaced Messi in the 71st minute. Messi's playing status had been uncertain until late this week following a leg injury sustained last weekend.


Neymar Makes Liga Debut

Brazilian attacker Neymar made his Liga debut for Barcelona on Sunday, entering the match as a 64th-minute substitute for Alexis Sanchez. The 21-year-old did not score, but completed 90 percent of his passes, including one key pass, according to

Neymar signed for Barcelona from Santos in June before leading Brazil to the FIFA Confederations Cup title. After the match, new Barca manager Gerardo "Tata" Martino said he would not put unnecessary pressure on Neymar.

"It's difficult to imagine someone as good as Neymar not being able to bring something to Barcelona," Martino said, per "He has connected well with Messi and the others, he looks comfortable. The only thing we need to do is be logical about when we put him in the team."

Martino added: "We want to put him into the team little by little, without pressuring him. We're going to be careful about Neymar, but he's a great player and will give a lot to the team."

Neymar's individual highlights can be seen in the video below.


Ronaldo, Real Madrid Grab Opening Win

Ronaldo started and played the full 90 minutes of Real Madrid's season-opening 2-1 victory over Real Betis on Sunday, but did not score. He did, however, come close.

The Portuguese international put the ball in Betis' net in the third minute, only for Marcelo to be ruled offside in the buildup. Just after halftime, Ronaldo hit the crossbar, and in the 70th minute, his dipping, swerving free kick was saved by Stephan Andersen.

Isco, making his debut after joining Real Madrid from Malaga this summer, scored the winner in the 86th minute.

Ronaldo scored 34 La Liga goals last season, second only behind Messi.


Up Next

Barcelona play Copa del Rey holders Atletico Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup on Wednesday before returning to La Liga on Sunday with a trip to Malaga.

Real Madrid travel to Granada on August 26 in La Liga action.