FC Barcelona 5 Real Sociedad 1

Barça’s 2012/2013 league season began brilliantly tonight with a 5-1 demolition of Real Sociedad at Camp Nou. With Tito Vilanova in charge of his first official game, captain Carles Puyol took just over three minutes to head Barça in front. Chori Castro pulled a goal back soon after before two quick goals from the irrestible Leo Messi put Barça 3-1 up after just 16 minutes. Further goals from Pedro and substitute David Villa in his first official game in eight months, put the icing on the cake of this fine performance.

Vilanova surprised in his first line-up by the inspired choice of including Cristian Tello on the left wing while Andres Iniesta, Alexis Sanchez and David Villa all started on the bench. The intention was clear from the beginning that Barça wanted to use the width of the pitch with Tello and Pedro staying wide with support from full backs Alba and Alves while Messi, Cesc and Xavi tried to use the spaces through the middle.

However, the first goal came from the unexpected route of our first corner. Xavi swung the ball to the near post where Puyol escaped the attention of Ansotegi to head firmly past Real’s Chilean keeper Claudio Bravo. Real almost hit back immediately but Antoine Griezmann just failed to force home Xavi Prieto’s dangerous cross. Barça had been warned but just four minutes later we allowed Real to equalize after Alves came across to the middle to cover Illarramendi, leaving Chori Castro free on the left to beat Valdés with a high drive inside the near post.

If there was a moment of doubt around Camp Nou it was dispelled almost immediately by Messi. Tello played a ball from left to right which found Pedro who touched it back inside to Messi whose quick feet got him past Mikel Gonzalez before lashing a fierce shot past Bravo from 14 yards. Eleven minutes played: 2-1 to Barça.

Barça were really buzzing now and five minutes later Tello began another move on the left, squaring the ball inside to Messi whose initial shot was deflected back to Tello who reacted quickly to send in a quick low cross and Messi was on hand to toe-poke the ball in at the near post. Messi might have completed his hat-trick a minute later but he couldn’t keep Alves’s cross down, heading narrowly over the bar.

The intensity of the first twenty minutes could not be maintained but Barça were controlling things nicely with Alba looking very composed at left back. There was very little danger now from Real though Castro had one hopeful shot go well wide and Elustondo had one magnificent effort from the halfway line that had Valdés backpeddling to tip the ball over the bar.

For Barça the next good chance came in the 36th minute with Cesc’s return pass setting up Messi for a low drive that Bravo put round the post for a corner. Then four minutes before the break a long flowing build-up ended with Xavi feeding Tello on the left and the youngster did well to pick out Pedro at the far post who scored with a calm side-foot volley across the keeper and inside the far post.

As is so often the case when a big lead has been built up the second half was not as good though there were still some showcase combinations to have the crowd purring. There was a quite brilliant double one-two between Messi and Pedro but Messi’s final shot hit the side netting.

Piqué and Iniesta were brought on and both appeared keen to show they shouldn’t be left on the bench. Piqué made a couple of very well timed tackles while also getting into the opposition’s area to give a backheel which set up a chance for Pedro, and Iniesta continued his good preseason form and had one left foot drive straight at Bravo.

There was a drive from Xavi that brought a diving save but it was with the introduction of Villa with 15 minutes remaining that brought the game to life again. There was a tremendous ovation for Villa and he immediately got involved with a backheel here and a flick there and showing his understanding with Alba from their days at Valencia. After one exchange of passes Alba got into the area, pulling it back for Messi whose shot was comfortably stopped by Bravo.

The best moment was reserved for Villa, after less than ten minutes on the pitch, he played the ball inside to Iniesta who did brilliantly to get to the byline before playing it back to the Asturian who fired a left foot special inside Bravo’s far post. Villa’s celebration of taking off his shirt to reveal the message “imposible sin vosotras” (impossible without you) with a picture of his family to thank them for their support through his long recuperation process was quite moving. The fact that players still get booked for taking off their shirt to celebrate a goal is one of the idiot laws that we unfortunately have in football and is only due to sponsors who want their publicity seen at this moment. Very sad and also very dumb and totally against the spirit of the moment when a player should be allowed to express himself.

I shouldn’t start moaning after such a good victory but I’m also annoyed by the new timetable for Spanish football which means some games will start as late as 11pm at night. I shouldn’t need to point out the inconvenience to so many people that these kick-off times will cause. But hey-ho, I suppose if they want the teams to play at three in the morning live from Beijing or Los Angeles then that is what we will get.

And while I’m on the subject of dumbass decisions, why the hell are we playing the Gamper tomorrow? A day after our opening league match and three days before we face Real Madrid in the first leg of the Supercopa. The attendance tonight of only 57,000 is a good indication that some people thought it better to come tomorrow night for the party atmosphere. Not a good decision but the important thing is we got off to an excellent start and with Madrid only drawing at home to Valencia we already have a two-point advantage over our most dangerous rival. Well done Tito, keep up the good work.

Barça: Valdés 6.5; Alves 6.5, Mascherano 7, Puyol 7 (Piqué m51, 7.5), Alba 7; Xavi 7, Busquets 6.5, Fabregas 6.5 (Iniesta m58, 7.5); Pedro 7 (Villa m75, 7.5), Messi 8, Tello 7.5.

Goals: 1-0 Puyol m4, 1-1 Castro m9, 2-1 Messi m11, 3-1 Messi m16, 4-1 Pedro m41, 5-1 Villa m84.

Barça yellow cards: Puyol m23, Mascherano m39 villa m85.

Attendance: 57,721.

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13 Responses to FC Barcelona 5 Real Sociedad 1

  1. FC Barcelona Rocks! says:


  2. layibiyi says:

    Damn, I’ve missed villa. He’s like a new signing. Messi doesn’t even need a few matches to warm up. Opens his ‘brace’ account immediately. Tello seems to have improved his decision making a bit. When there are multiple coaches in an ‘era’ guiding the same team, each coach would ideally like to leave at least a fingerprint on the team. Tito might want to do this by improving or changing the roles of new or ‘old’ players that hadn’t reached max potential. If players like tello, sanchez, alba, song, afellay etc end up being crucial this season, they could easily be significant points when evaluating what the ‘Tito era’ offered. Still, the main philosophy remains though.

    Also happy to see puyol, alba looks as if he never left.

    There were a lot of good games today. Good of Valencia to get a point from Madrid even if their backs were against the wall for almost the whole game. They have given Madrid to many free 3 points of recent compared to barca. Even though Madrid still created some significant chances, they should be prepared for the fact that their would be at least lesser space for their devastating counter attacks this season.

  3. bc9jaCule says:

    Glad to get off to a good start under Tito and I can only wish this can be upheld across the season. And, another candid observation I picked up in your wonderful review was the use of Tello and Pedro to widen our attacking flanks right from the start a both of them had a solid outing. Keep them coming, Tito. I’d like to see Moaninho go uncontrollably gaga from your tactical variations.

    Visca Tito!!!!!
    Visca Barca!!!!!
    Forca Barca!!!!!

  4. Fredegar says:

    That was a fantastic game to start the season, no rustiness, looks like it was a brilliant idea to avoid the tour in Asia or America as we looked very fresh from the off. In particular, I thought our pressing was very intense, far better than most of what we’ve seen last year, let’s hope for more of the same!
    Some players of course had great performances, and I think Tello really shone in this game, with three assists: His decision making is improving quickly, I agree with that Layibiyi. I was very happy for our legendary captain to score the first goal of the season at Camp Nou, and Iniesta was a bit poor until he made THAT assist. So glad for Villa, he entered the fray with a lot of hunger and intent and was rightly rewarded with a fantastic goal. If he can keep this kind of level (and Pedro keep his scoring boots on), that could relieve a bit the pressure of scoring on Messi and that would be great as I think we need more sources of danger in tight games.
    Also, did you notice that Tito made his substitutions early? He seems intent to rotate a bit more the team than Pep, could be good if we avoid to be totally burnt in April…
    I’m a very happy culé to start the season this way!

    • layibiyi says:

      True, pep’s substitutions (With rotation and energy saving in mind) were sometimes funny…. We got the trophies hence we didn’t make any silly fuss about it 🙂

  5. Hope this season will be for FC Barcelona.

  6. Hope, this season will be for FC Barcelona.

  7. ewe_gb says:

    i have a question: a lot of people continue criticizing cesc a lot after the opening match, especially at totalbarca.com. actually, i would have seen him improved with a lot more of movement and he doesn’t seem to be the “alien” in barca’s play anymore. still, he had some sloppy passes and some not so good first touches. on the other hand, he tried to speed up the game with long passes. so, all in all, i was quite content with his performance. what is your opinion about it?

    • barcacentralnic says:

      I certainly wouldn’t say Cesc had a bad game but I think most people would like to see a bit more of him. He still doesn’t fit in so well with the 4-3-3 system as when we played 3-4-3 last season though I think it is fair to give him a second season before pulling the knives out.
      What do the rest of you think?

      • layibiyi says:

        Cesc situation is gonna continue to be a conundrum for the foreseeable future. It’s up to Tito to look for solutions. Like you mentioned, he usually has just ‘good’ games when playing in our default system. But for someone of his value and status at the club, everybody wants to see him having great games whatever the system or the opposition.

  8. FC Barcelona Rocks! says:

    At times, i would love to see Fabregas play the deep lying playmaker role(Busquets role)……best tried out against weaker opponents to begin with =D

  9. Great Blog my friend! I have a football site too, talking about Portuguese and european football.

    I hope you stop by.

    Cheers and good luck for your Barça.

  10. Pingback: Preview: FC Barcelona vs Real Sociedad (game 6 liga 2013/14) | barçacentral

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