The ecstasy created by a Lionel Messi goal in Barcelona's opening 2014-15 La Liga match against Elche was quickly dispelled when Javier Mascherano picked up a red card at Camp Nou on Sunday.
ESPN FC outlined the scene as it unfolded:
Fox Soccer Trax offered more details on the play that got Mascherano ousted:
The red card came just before the halftime intermission, leaving Barcelona down to 10 men and needing an exceptional second-half effort to get one point, much less hold on for three.
But as WhoScored.com pointed out, Barca was dominating possession:
Mattias Karen of the Associated Press reacted to the craziness that unfolded in light of Mascherano's unceremonious exit from the La Liga opener:
Perhaps Mascherano's misfortune was already written in light of this unique chase, per AS.com:
The team's official Twitter account pondered how manager Luis Enrique would compensate for Mascherano's absence with regard to tactics:
Napoli manager Rafa Benitez commented recently on how Mascherano has found a comfortable home as a member of Barcelona.
"He has two years left on his contract. They know he is an important player, they talked to him and made him feel more important," said Benitez, via Goal.com's Joe Wright (h/t Sky Sports Italia).
Mascherano is a versatile, defensive-oriented footballer whose presence on the pitch is vital for Barca to complement their high-octane attack and reign as one of the sport's best clubs. However, to have this happen against Elche is rather fortunate. Barca were unlucky to have not scored more in the opening half, as they had two shots hit the woodwork on top of Messi's goal.
Ivan Rakitic scored toward the beginning of the second half as it was, so Barcelona and their fans have evidently rallied for the cause to make up for Mascherano's premature departure. If any team has the offensive firepower to make up for the loss of a valuable player, it's Barca.
The bigger concern is that Mascherano is suspended for the next league match, which will be on the road at Villarreal. That will be a far stiffer test, but at least Barca will be at full strength in an effort to get some early-season La Liga momentum.
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