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What a game to start the league season! And what a game to welcome back the fans, albeit in limited numbers, to the Camp Nou.
Those lucky enough to be inside the ground were treated to a truly brilliant spectacle, with the Barça machine in full swing as it pumped three goals past Real Sociedad. But there was also a reminder of how agonising it can sometimes be to be a Culer!
For despite utterly dominating, Barça’s three-goal lead was cut down by two in the final minutes, and it wasn’t until Sergi Roberto slammed in Barça’s fourth in injury that the first three points of the season were safely in the bag.
Fair reward for Piqué
The chances were flying in from the start, with the front trio of Antoine Griezmann, Martin Braithwaite and Memphis Depay all keeping the visiting defence very busy indeed.
Memphis seems to find something special every time he touches the ball, and it was he who set up the opening goal. And fittingly enough, he did it for the man without whose help he may not have even been on the pitch.
It was thanks to Gerard Piqué’s willingness to agree to a salary cut that the Dutch recruit could be officially registered this week. The debutant floated a fabulous free kick into the area and the Catalan centre back rose above everyone to head in Barça’s first goal of the 2021/22 season.
Real Sociedad were nowhere to be seen until the final minutes of the first half, but it was then that Barça hit them a second time. Eric Garcia, also making his debut today, pounced on an error, Frenkie de Jong whipped in a cross and Braithwaite came powering in to head in goal number two.
The same man scored Barça’s third too. Real keeper Alex Remiro could only parry Jordi Alba’s strike away and it fell straight into the Dane’s path. A confident smack of the ball and that was 3-0…
Emerson Royal and Nico Martinez also played their first competitive games for the team towards the end of a game that by now seemed as good as won.
Real Sociedad were on a quite remarkable 23-match losing streak at Camp Nou, but within the space of three minutes it was no longer quite so inevitable that this was going to be defeat number 24.
Julen Lobete capped a fine move to produce what looked like nothing more than a consolation goal. But when Mikel Oyarzabal fired in a quite extraordinary free-kick there was suddenly only one goal in it…
At Camp Nou the jubilance and confidence gave way to nail-biting and nerves.
Thankfully, the suffering was short-lived. Braithwaite added an assist to his two goals by delivering the ball across the face of the goal for Sergi Roberto to bang into place.
A huge sigh of relief and Barça fans can celebrate a winning start to the new season. There’s another Basque opponent next week, this time away from home against Athletic Club in Bilbao.
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