MADRID, Aug. 29 (Xinhua) — Defending BBVA Primera Liga Champions FC Barcelona kicked off their league campaign with an easy 5-0 win against Villarreal in the Camp Nou Stadium on Monday night.
Barcelona were playing on Monday because they had played the European Supercup Final on Sunday night, beating Porto 2-0 in Monaco.
If Villarreal were hoping that the Catalans may have been suffering from tired legs or a post celebration hangover, they were to be disappointed.
Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola produced a surprise in his starting line-up: with central defenders Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique both injured, he started the game with just three defenders on the pitch, but with Cesc Fabrigas, who was making his league debut for Barcelona, Seydou Keita, Andres Iniesta and Thiago Alcantara in midfield, while Xavi Hernandez was on the substitutes’ bench.
|Barcelona’s Thiago Alcantara celebrates after scoring a goal against Villarreal during their Spanish first division soccer match at Nou Camp stadium in Barcelona August 29, 2011.|
The strange line-up didn’t stop Barcelona dominating the play, indeed the extra man in midfield allowed them to tightly control midfield and all of the chances fell the way of the home side.
Leo Messi drew a good save from Villarreal keeper, Diego Lopez after 15 minutes, before Sergio Busquets headed a corner against the crossbar and Lopez came off his line fast to deny Cesc.
It was only a matter of time before the goal arrived and Thiago obliged with a smart left foot shot into the corner of the Villarreal net after 25 minutes.
Giuseppe Rossi, who had been close to joining Barca over the summer, drew a fine save from Victor Valdes with time running out in the first half, before Cesc doubled Barca’s lead, dribbling round Lopez following a fine pass from Messi.
Any lingering doubts about who would take the points were ended two minutes into the second half when Alexis Sanchez, who was also making his debut, scored following a Tiago pass.
From that moment it was a question of how many goals Barca would score: Messi got on the scoresheet after 53 minutes after good work from Iniesta and he scored again with 15 minutes remaining, with Tiago again giving the final pass.
The result was the perfect reply to Real Madrid who won 6-0 in Zaragoza on Sunday night, but the fact that Barca won so easily against the side that finished last season comfortably in fourth place in the league, does little to lift the feeling that once again the Spanish league is going to be a two-horse race.