24.09.13 Barcelona v Real Sociedad
Barça have equalled the club’s best ever start to a Liga campaign by making it six wins out of six after a brilliant 4-1 win against Real Sociedad. And it all happened on the day that the city was celebrating its patron saint, the Mercè festival, and in emphatic style. The first 22 minutes saw a barrage of goals from Neymar, Messi and Busquets, and from then on it was complete dominance from the home side, with the visitor’s solitary goal doing nothing to worry the Camp Nou faithful. Nevertheless, things had got off to an alarming start. In the first minute, Seferovic struck the Barça bar, and Mascherano, who ended up being substituted on the half hour, ended up grounded after being accidentally stamped on by Busquets. But having avoided that early warning call, the Catalans regrouped and set about dominating their guests in every facet of the game. Real were forced back into their own half and the chances started flowing. Neymar was outstanding with his penetrating runs from the left, and Iniesta was plethoric in an aggressive, dominant midfield in which Xavi and Busquets read every play to perfection. It was the Brazilian who first found the net after just four minutes when he pounced on a moment of uncertainty between visiting goalkeeper Bravo and his colleague Cadamuro. Just five minutes later, the same man Neymar left two men stranded before crossing for Messi to grab the second. Barça’s attacking machine was on full throttle, and the play was developing at a frantic pace. Real Sociedad looked lost, and matters weren’t helped for them when their captain Xabi Prieto went off injured after 22 minutes, to be ambitiously replaced by Aguirretxe. Busquets soon made it 3-0 with a strike from outside the area, moments after Messi had hit the bar. Barça were combining to absolute perfection, and the fans even celebrated the chances that went begging, so impressive was the footballing display before them. And even though he had very little to do this evening, the crowd also started chanting the name of Víctor Valdés in recognition of the crucial saves he’s made in recent matches. Barça weren’t holding up, and despite their healthy lead, most of the play was still deep inside the Real Sociedad half – and after the break, Messi and Neymar continued searching for further goals. Real hadn’t exactly done much to contribute to the Camp Nou’s anniversary, but did manage to grab a consolation goal after 63 minutes through De la Bella. Barça responded in precisely the right way. With only two goals in it, they slowed the pace and started taking fewer risks. Not only that, but tiredness was clearly setting in, just as Real, encouraged by the goal, starting counter attacking with increasingly greater effect as they fought to somehow find a way back into the match. They played with courage, but it was still Barça who were in command, and not too many people in the Camp Nou were worried that the game wasn’t going to end in anything other than a home win. Any hint of uncertainty soon vanished in the 75th minute Bartra, looking every bit the forward, converted a Messi cross to make it 4-1. That as good as brought the night’s activities to a conclusion, and Martino decided to bring off both Neymar and Messi for some well-earned rest. Alexis was left to run the frontline alone, and really deserved a goal in the final seconds, but his header struck the post. All in all, it was another tremendous performance from FC Barcelona, and it’s now six wins out of six in La Liga.