The team put in an excellent collective effort in tonight's La Liga opener against Real Sociedad, but the 5-1 rout couldn't have happened without key contributions from Leo Messi, Cristian Tello, David Villa, Carles Puyol and Tito Vilanova
It’s not surprising that a player who broke La Liga’s all-time domestic scoring record last season with 50 goals got on the scoresheet tonight. Rivals be warned, Leo Messi bagged a brace and for the first time in many years the Argentine was able to complete the entire pre-season with his Club.
The youngster didn’t shy away from the opportunity Vilanova gave him. Cristian Tello, a constant nightmare for De la Bella on the left wing, not only linked-up beautifully with veterans like Messi and Xavi, but did his part in helping out the ever-present Jordi Alba on defence.
The Barça B player, besides testing Bravo on multiple occasions, served up a nearly perfect ball for Messi, who played a give-and-go with Pedro, before the Argentine slammed the ball into the back of the net for Barça’s second goal of the night. Tello assisted Messi minutes later when the reserve player scooped up a rebound and pulled it back for Barça’s onrushing number 10.
It’s been 247 days since El Guaje featured in an official match for his team. The last time David Villa donned the Blaugrana colours in competitive play was against Al-Sadd in the Club World Cup in Japan this past December. The player was carted off the pitch with a broken tibia. The forward’s grueling recovery work paid off and in tonight’s match he made his official return to the Camp Nou. Villa linked-up with Andrés Iniesta with seven minutes to go before full time and slotted the ball into Bravo’s goal with a left-footed shot. Upwards of 57,000 Camp Nou attendees lost their heads with excitement as the forward ripped his shirt off to show what lay beneath: an undershirt that featured a picture of his family with a caption that read ‘¡¡¡Imposible sin vosotras!!!’ [Impossible without you]
Villa wasn’t the only Barça player to battle back from injury to feature in tonight’s match. Carles Puyol was named the starting line-up by Vilanova after months of recovering from injury. The Barça captain scored FC Barcelona’s first official goal of the 2012/13 season when he headed the ball into the back of the net from a Xavi Hernández corner. Puyol was subbed out at the start of the second half for Gerard Piqué.
Tito Vilanova led FC Barcelona to an eye-opening 5-1 victory over Real Sociedad in his La Liga debut. It’s been a while since Barça have started the season so strongly, especially considering that Pep Guardiola was unable to claim the three points with Barça in his official managerial debut (against Sporting). But tonight was different. It was an evening for new faces and new beginnings. A changing of the guard from Guardiola’s leadership to Vilanova’s, and the new manager performed brilliantly.