Tuesday, October 20, 2020
Home Football Messi nets as Barca win La Liga opener

Messi nets as Barca win La Liga opener


Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are the only players to score in one of Europe’s top five leagues in each of the past 17 seasons

Lionel Messi scored a penalty as Ronald Koeman’s era as Barcelona boss began with a comfortable La Liga win over Villarreal.

Ansu Fati was the game’s outstanding player and scored Barca’s first two goals, with a first-time finish from a Jordi Alba ball and then a low drive from Philippe Coutinho’s pass.

He won the penalty which Messi scored.

Barca had the game wrapped up by half-time as Pau Torres turned Messi’s cross into his own net.

Unai Emery’s Villarreal offered little opposition, with their only shot on target coming in the final minute.

Messi is the sixth player to score a goal in 17 different La Liga seasons, joining Real Madrid’s Sergio Ramos, who joined that club on Saturday.

It was Messi’s first game sincetrying to leavehis only club in the summer.

Messi, 33, submitted a transfer request – claiming he was allowed to leave for free because of a clause in his contract – but Barca said he could not leave for less than 700m euros.

He reluctantly announced he would stay because no team would pay that price, and he did not want to take the club to court.

He started in the centre but played on the right and left in a flexible front line.

Lionel Messi's touch map
Lionel Messi was heavily involved in all attacking areas of the pitch

He had a total of seven shots in the game, forcing Sergio Asenjo into three saves as well as his penalty goal.

Koeman replaced Quique Setien, who was sacked after Barca failed to win the league and then lost 8-2 to Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

Coutinho, who scored twice in that game for Bayern, was back in Barca’s starting line-up after returning from a loan spell.

Summer signings Miralem Pjanic, Francisco Trincao and Pedri all made their debuts in the second half.

‘No signs of discontent’ – the view from Spain

Spanish football writer Andy West

On a night when Barcelona were attempting to move on from a tumultuous summer and take their first steps towards a brighter future, it felt fitting that Lionel Messi was upstaged by the youngster who looks capable of eventually inheriting his crown as the king of the Nou Camp: Ansu Fati.

The 17 year-old winger was a rare positive in Barca’s deeply troubled 2019-20 campaign, and underlined his awesome potential with two superbly taken early goals plus the surging run which led to a penalty for Messi’s third.

That doesn’t mean Messi did not contribute to this one-sided victory over an atrocious Villarreal. Lining up in the false nine position he last regularly occupied in 2014, the skipper was bright and engaged, showing no signs of the discontent which led to his attempts to quit the club during the summer.

And perhaps that’s no surprise, because this was Messi doing what he loves the most: playing football, and doing so for a well-balanced team which gave him plenty of freedom to roam without expecting him to do everything, as has often been the case in recent times.

Much tougher tests will come and the feeble nature of Villarreal’s capitulation means it’s impossible to draw long-term conclusions, but the start of Messi’s reintegration could not have been more comfortable.

Line-ups

Barcelona

  • 13Murara Neto
  • 20Roberto
  • 3Piqué
  • 15Lenglet
  • 18Alba
  • 5BusquetsSubstituted forPjanicat78′minutes
  • 21de Jong
  • 7GriezmannSubstituted forMachado Trincãoat78′minutes
  • 14CoutinhoSubstituted forGonzálezat70′minutes
  • 22FatiSubstituted forDembéléat70′minutes
  • 10Messi

Substitutes

  • 6Aleñá
  • 8Pjanic
  • 11Dembélé
  • 12Rafinha
  • 16González
  • 17Machado Trincão
  • 24Firpo
  • 26Peña
  • 28Puig
  • 30Araújo
  • 32Ramos Mingo
  • 36Tenas

Villarreal

  • 1Asenjo
  • 2Pérez Martínez
  • 3AlbiolSubstituted forFunes Moriat84′minutes
  • 4Torres
  • 15Estupiñán
  • 11ChukwuezeSubstituted forKuboat74′minutes
  • 5Parejo
  • 19CoquelinSubstituted forTrigueros Muñozat45′minutes
  • 23Gómez Bardonado
  • 7MorenoBooked at 83minsSubstituted forBaccaat84′minutes
  • 17AlcácerSubstituted forIborraat45′minutes

Substitutes

  • 6Funes Mori
  • 9Bacca
  • 10Iborra
  • 13Rulli
  • 14Trigueros Muñoz
  • 16Kubo
  • 21Costa
  • 27Cabrera
  • 32Baena
  • 34Niño
Referee:
Guillermo Cuadra Fernández

Live Text

  1. Match ends, Barcelona 4, Villarreal 0.

  2. Second Half ends, Barcelona 4, Villarreal 0.

  3. Lionel Messi (Barcelona) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  4. Foul by Vicente Iborra (Villarreal).

  5. Attempt blocked. Lionel Messi (Barcelona) left footed shot from a difficult angle on the left is blocked. Assisted by Trincão.

  6. Attempt missed. Miralem Pjanic (Barcelona) right footed shot from outside the box is too high from a direct free kick.

  7. Ousmane Dembélé (Barcelona) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  8. Foul by Takefusa Kubo (Villarreal).

  9. Miralem Pjanic (Barcelona) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  10. Foul by Carlos Bacca (Villarreal).

  11. Attempt saved. Takefusa Kubo (Villarreal) left footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by Mario Gaspar.

  12. Ousmane Dembélé (Barcelona) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  13. Foul by Manu Trigueros (Villarreal).

  14. Offside, Barcelona. Gerard Piqué tries a through ball, but Trincão is caught offside.

  15. Corner, Barcelona. Conceded by Sergio Asenjo.

  16. Attempt saved. Lionel Messi (Barcelona) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal.

  17. Attempt saved. Trincão (Barcelona) left footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by Frenkie de Jong.

  18. Substitution, Villarreal. Carlos Bacca replaces Gerard Moreno.

  19. Substitution, Villarreal. Ramiro Funes Mori replaces Raúl Albiol.

  20. Gerard Moreno (Villarreal) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

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