Barcelona limbered up for their La Liga campaign with a 6-0 win over Leon in the Joan Gamper Trophy on Monday.
In the 49th iteration of Barca’s traditional curtain-raiser, Lionel Messi and Neymar were in dazzling form for the Catalans.
Luis Suarez was introduced to the crowd prior to the game, and he was given 15 minutes in the spotlight, but Barcelona showed that they will be in safe hands while the Uruguayan serves his suspension.
It took less than a minute for Neymar to suggest his back injury is a thing of the past, as he skipped beyond a couple of defenders at pace before playing a pass into the path of fellow Brazilian Dani Alves. Neymar went in search of the return ball, but it did not come his way.
A shade over two minutes later, Luis Enrique’s Barcelona took the lead. In what Barca fans will hope is a sign of things to come, it came from the Messi-Neymar axis.
Messi collected the ball near the halfway line before turning and slipping a pass into the path of Neymar. Messi kept going in search of the return ball. It came his way from Neymar, albeit via the aid of a deflection, and Messi was on hand to nod the ball home.
Neymar to Messi and it's already 1-0. Barca can get forward in a hurry, and they'll be even faster when Suarez gets involved #BarcavsLeon— Adrian Melville (@AdrianMelville) August 18, 2014
With Barcelona less than a week away from their La Liga opener against Elche on Sunday, Enrique will have his players near enough at the peak of their powers.
Mexican side Leon felt the full force of Barcelona’s power once again on 12 minutes. The glorious dinked finish from Neymar was delightful, but it would not have been possible without the pass from Andres Iniesta. It was eye-of-a-needle stuff, as Iniesta measured an inch-perfect pass to Neymar that left four defenders simply helpless.
So good was Barca’s play in the opening 15 minutes, the level had to dip at some stage.
Leon finally showed they had an attacking spark on 19 minutes when Barca 'keeper Claudio Bravo was forced into a decent low save.
Barcelona had an extra gear at their disposal and should have extended their lead on 41 minutes, but Neymar delayed a shade too long and William Yarbrough raced off his line to make a smothering save.
Who will win La Liga this season?
Yarbrough could do nothing to do deny Neymar a second on 43 minutes. Messi flicked the ball into the Brazilian’s path, and he dinked the ball beyond the 'keeper before impudently backheeling the ball into an unguarded net.
Munir El Haddadi was introduced at the start of the second half and he took eight minutes to get on the scoresheet, a simple finish at the back post after a cute lay-off from Dani Alves.
Suarez was the man many had made the trip to the Camp Nou to see. He was handed a 15-minute cameo.
The Uruguayan did not get on the scoresheet, but Munir did for a second time with a neat finish from a fine team move on 76 minutes. Sandro Ramirez put the icing on a cake when collecting a pass from Munir and firing home the sixth in the last minute.
Barca will now turn their attentions to Elche on Sunday. They will be without Suarez, whose attentions will be on staying fit in training on account of his ban, but with Neymar and Messi looking extremely sharp, the Catalans look well placed to mount a challenge to Real Madrid and champions Atletico.
Is Munir staying with Barca for the season?
Luis Enrique: "Munir to stay with first team? We'll see, depends on how he performs. I've many options up front, different types of players"— barcastuff (@barcastuff) August 18, 2014