Barcelona impress in first match after Messi's departure

Arsh Asthana/Dubai
Filed on August 16, 2021
Barcelona players celebrate a goal. (FC Barcelona Twitter)

Barcelona came up with a collective effort on Sunday in the opening La Liga match

Lionel Messi may have left Barcelona for PSG, but there’s life in the old dog yet. Ronald Koeman’s men began the post-Messi era with a convincing 4-2 win over Real Sociedad on Sunday.

Goals from Gerard Pique, Sergi Roberto and a brace from Martin Braithwaite helped the Catalans get off to a flying start.

It has been a difficult period for Barcelona, as they are trying to cope with life without the iconic Argentinian forward.

It has not been easy for the fans either. Thousands of fans in the stadium even paid a tribute to Messi by wearing his jersey and chanting his name during the 10th minute of the game on Sunday.

Some fans even protested in and outside the stadium, slamming club president Joan Laporta for not doing enough to keep the greatest player in the team’s history.

With fans finally back, albeit at 20 pre cent capacity, at the Camp Nou in over 526 days, there was a sense of optimism that filled Barcelona’s historic home ground as they began a new era.

Veteran defender Pique received a wonderful reception from the fans when he stepped onto the field, having agreed to reduce his wages so that the club could register three new signings for the season.

It was only fitting that Pique was the man to open Barcelona’s account for the new La Liga season, as he headed in new signing Memphis Depay’s free kick in the 19th minute.

After going 3-0 up, Barcelona seemed to have put their foot off the gas which allowed Real Sociedad to stage a fightback in the last 15 minutes. But Barcelona put the game to bed in the 91st minute when Roberto scored off Braithwaite’s assist.

Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman was happy with his team’s performance. But the Dutch manager said he would "prefer to still have Lionel Messi" in the Barcelona line-up.

"Hey, if I had to choose, I would still prefer to have Leo Messi in my team," said Koeman after the match.

"We no longer have a player who can decide the fate of matches on his own -- now it will be a collective effort."

Barcelona certainly came up with an impressive collective effort on Sunday in the opening La Liga match of the new season.

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