Quietly, without making too much noise, Lionel Messi began his 2012-2013 La Liga campaign like nothing has changed over the summer, scoring twice to back up his record breaking season right from the start, as Barcelona cruised to a 5-1 win over Real Socieded in a perfect start to their season.
Why perfect? Because despite conceding a goal only five minutes after getting their first lead through Carles Puyol, this was the usual Barcelona we’ve gotten used to from the last three seasons, just with a different name and face on the sidelines, Tito Vilanova, although with enough familiarity to not make it strange.
Because Cristian Tello had two assists and seems to be over his one-trick pony routine, being the best player on the pitch, playing on the left wing. In general, there will be few left sides, whoever plays on the wing for Barcelona, as deadly as this one, with the fantastic Jordi Alba enjoying his first official game as a Barca player after not getting a minute of rest this summer.
Most of all, because of David Villa, returning after nine months of recovery from his injury, stepping on the pitch with 15 minutes to go and getting the goal he deserved more than anyone else, immediately running to thank his family for their support through his trials. At this pace, pretty soon he’ll be back on the left side of the attack, starting matches, as Barcelona’s most expensive signing ever is expected to be.
There’s nothing much to learn about Sociedad, who crumbled like any team visiting the Nou Camp. Just the sheer presence of Messi in these games caused panic among the defenders, and when a team actually tries to open up play and attack without creating the right kind of pressure on the Barcelona midfield (with Xavi, Fabregas and Busquets starting this time), the results are usually not too good.
For Barcelona and also for Real, there’s not much to take from the opening match except the result. A few positives, a few negatives, but too soon to really point a finger at something. An away match at Osasuna will probably be a bit more revealing, and lets not forget the first Super Clasico of the season this Thursday in the Spanish Super Cup. It may be a meaningless title, but it’s an incredibly important match to both sides, especially after such different results between the clubs and a different opening day for the two biggest football stars in the world.