Summer for Barça fans as been a bit of a mixed affair. The club made many brilliant signings but some players fell on the international stage. In the Euros, the blaugrana players of Spain crashed out at the hands of Italy, and Ivan Rakitić’s Croatia going out to eventual winners Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo. Even more upsetting, in the Copa America, Lionel Messi dazzled throughout, only to lose out in another international competition on penalties. After Leo was brought to tears at the MetLife Stadium, some FCB fans feared the worst for his future. Other fans recalled his incredible performances after the World Cup disappointment in 2014. Messi has made his intentions clear for this season after game week one.
Coming up against a Betis side under the management of Gus Poyet, Messi, and the slightly new look squad made the first day of the season a real party at the Camp Nou. And Messi: he was the life of the party! During the second leg of the Spanish Super Cup, Messi took on a deeper role in the squad, let’s say a quarterback position, pinging passes across the field and creating attacks from the back, but against Betis he pushed forward a bit more, and to devastating effect.
A sweeping diagonal pass from the little blonde-haired ginger-bearded Argentinian glided across the penalty area in the sixth minute, met by Jordi Alba who controlled and played a uncharacteristically accurate pass to Arda Turan who flicked a side-footed shot past the big-mouthed former Real Madrid goalkeeper Adan and into the back of the net via a failed clearance from a Betis defender.
Things seemed to be going easy for Barça but they were pegged back in the 20th minute after Denis Suárez conceded a foul on the edge of the area, and veteran Betis forward Ruben Castro converted into the far corner with a shot that Claudio Bravo got a hand to and probably could’ve done better with.
Then Barça shifted into their next gear. Messi smashed a typical Messi-goal into the left of the Betis goal with five players attempting to close him down, and a few minutes later Luis Suárez swept the third goal into the bottom corner after a brilliant pick-out from the ever-consistent Sergi Roberto.
Half-time came and passed and Luis Enrique’s men were still in the mood for a few more goals to seal the deal. A brilliant move from the team saw a rejuvenated Arda Turan play a reverse pass to Messi who squared to Suárez for his second and Barça’s fourth, and seemingly instantly after the restart, with barely time to message to your mates about the fourth goal, Messi smashed in the fifth goal from just outside of the penalty area.
The Camp Nou was well and truly in party mode, with the singing section of the Gol Nord even starting to dance around as well as sing. Leo Messi must’ve been in party mode too, and feeling generous, as he let Suárez take a free-kick and he happily accepted the offer as he hit a powerful curling effort into the top left corner to get his Liga and Pichichi campaign off in style with a hat-trick.
Betis scored a late consolation goal in the 83rd minute as Castro pounced on a bit of pinball in the FCB penalty area and scored his second of the game to make it 6-2.
The opening match of the season clearly held many obvious positives in the front line, and at the back we saw a very solid performance from summer signing Samuel Umtiti, who showed great strength, was calm on the ball, and could pick a pass well. Sergi Roberto gave an efficient showing in defence and attack, showing a much calmer style compared to his competitor, the slightly erratic Aleix Vidal.
Gerard Piqué, Ivan Rakitić, and Sergio Busquets all looked the part and showed no real signs of being hungover from their slightly longer summer at the European Championships.
Barcelona had many absences for the first match of the league season due to injury, suspension, or being away on Olympic duty, so the squad can only get deeper and better. The squad is looking fit, hungry, and ready to challenge for all three trophies this season and there is absolutely no reason why we can’t think about the third treble in the clubs history, with the squad looking as good as it has in a long time, especially with incredible depth in almost every position, something the club has barely ever seen.
Barça could’ve been worried about Lionel Messi’s future performances after another Argentina failure, but it is clear for everyone to see that Messi is god and he will continue to guide the club as high as they can go.