Tracking Performances of Real Madrid, Barcelona Superstars After Weekend Aug. 30

Karl Matchett@@karlmatchettFeatured ColumnistAugust 31, 2014

Barcelona's Lionel Messi, from Argentina, and Neymar, from Brazil, during a Spanish La Liga soccer match against Villarreal at the Madrigal stadium in Villarreal, Spain, on Sunday, Aug 31, 2014.(AP Photo/Alberto Saiz)
Alberto Saiz/Associated Press

La Liga's 2014-15 season is underway, and along with our usual team-focused aspects and analysis of the campaign, we're going to be taking a close look at how the biggest stars in the division get on.

Real Madrid spent heavily on James Rodriguez this summer, while Barcelona likewise shelled out on Luis Suarez, giving both sides three top-drawer attackers in each potential starting XI. Add in last summer's big recruits, Neymar and Gareth Bale, and the two best players on the planet, and there should be plenty of interest in how the six progress this season.

 

Lionel Messi and Neymar

Lionel Messi didn't manage to score but played the 90 minutes as captain for Barcelona in their 1-0 win over Villarreal. He was the most frequent outlet for his side and the creative force moving from the middle to the final thirds, though the impressive home defence did not give much space for his team-mates to run into.

The No. 10 did make a telling contribution, though, when he found room down the right channel to set up the winning goal in the final stages of the game—though he also picked up an injury.

Messi pulls adductor muscle and Munir has bruised thigh http://t.co/5IRJY1302s #fcblive pic.twitter.com/7iduhFpKqo

— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) August 31, 2014

Neymar came off the bench, his first appearance of the season after injury, but he had little telling impact as he struggled to get up to the pace of the game.

 

Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez

Bale started as an influential performer for Real Madrid as they took a 2-0 lead early on at Real Sociedad, scoring a well-taken goal in the process, his first of the new campaign. A few runs and darts infield off the left flank marked him out as a danger, but he faded badly as his team capitulated and ended up losing 4-2.

Just your regulation nutmeg, finish, inside the box from @GarethBale11 https://t.co/EsedoFqQf0

— Bleacher Report UK (@br_uk) August 31, 2014

James, conversely, barely got into the game early on as a right-sided forward, but once Real Madrid were chasing the game, he found a little more space to operate in and did well in swapping passes and getting a shot away to test the opposition goalkeeper.

 

Luis Suarez and Cristiano Ronaldo

Suarez is of course suspended for some time yet for Barcelona, while Real Madrid's star forward Cristiano Ronaldo missed out through injury.

Isco gets a rare start for Real Madrid with Cristiano Ronaldo out injured

— SPORT English (@Sport_EN) August 31, 2014

 

Matchday Stats Comparison

Real Sociedad vs. Real Madrid and Villarreal vs. Barcelona
PlayerMins PlayedTouchesKey PassesShotsOn TargetDribblesAssistsGoals
Bale9057131101
James9061321000
Messi9094484500
Neymar3118131000
whoscored.com

 

Season Stats Comparison

La Liga, 2014-15 season
PlayerAppearancesGoalsMins per goalAssistsKey Passes per gameShots per gameDribbles per game
Messi229003.55.56.0
Neymar10-01.03.00
Suarez0------
Ronaldo119002.03.00
Bale2118000.52.50.5
James20-02.03.00.5
whoscored.com