Memphis Depay immediately important for Barcelona on debut
Barcelona started flashy and immediately scored three goals in the first three minutes. Koeman’s formation played almost continuously in the opponent’s half. After exactly ten minutes of play, the crowd chanted the name of the departed Lionel Messi for a minute. They showed that they have not forgotten one of the best footballers of all time in Spain.
After almost twenty minutes of play, Gerard Pique broke the spell after a free kick from Memphis. The Dutchman put the ball on the Spaniard’s head and ‘thanked’ him in this way for the fact that he could make his debut on Sunday evening. Last week, Pique decided to hand in no less than 4 million euros in salary, giving the Catalans the space to register acquisitions Memphis Depay and Eric Garcia for the competition at the last minute.
Not much later, Memphis itself was close to 2-0, but the Orange international found the Real Sociedad goalkeeper on his way. On the stroke of half-time it was still 2-0. Martin Braithwaite scored the second goal of the evening with a header. This time the other Dutchman was responsible for the cross. Frenkie de Jong intercepted the ball himself and gave an excellent pass to the Dane.
After the first half, Koeman could be satisfied with the game his team showed. The start of Barcelona was especially flashy. Sociedad barely got involved and tried to compensate for the big difference in level with hard tackles and at times vicious play.
After the break, Imanol Alguacil’s formation improved. From the bench he saw how his team was a lot more dangerous than before halftime. Yet it was Barcelona that moved further away. After another excellent preparatory work by Memphis and Jordi Alba, Braithwaite made his second of the evening.
Still, it was still exciting for Barcelona. Ten minutes before the end, Julen Lobete made the 3-1 and barely three minutes later Mikel Oyarzabal scored the connecting goal. He brought the tension back into the game with a perfectly taken free kick. At that time, De Jong had already been pulled aside by Koeman.
The last minutes were exciting, but Sergi Roberto closed the game in stoppage time after an assist from Braithwaite: 4-2.
Koeman admitted on Sunday that he would rather have Lionel Messi in his team. Barcelona has started the new competition for the first time after 17 seasons without the Argentinian in the squad. “We no longer have a player who can decide matches on his own. From now on it will have to come from a collective effort,” said the coach.
“It’s always important to start the season with a win,” Koeman said. “Certainly at home and certainly after the recent events. We wanted to look good and win and we both did.”
Koeman praised Garcia and Depay as they played their first game for Barcelona in La Liga. “Eric Garcia was strong on the ball and was always in the right position defensively. He started because he has match rhythm. That’s the difference with other defenders. Memphis did well and had a fantastic assist. It’s good that we handle free kicks and corners better and that we score goals.”
For the first time in almost a year and a half, a limited audience was allowed to be present in Camp Nou again. Koeman praised the support of the 20,000 attendees: “From the start, our supporters pushed us, they stood behind the team. It makes a huge difference.”
Argentinian Correa gives Atlético the victory at Celta
Ángel Correa helped Atlético Madrid to a victory in the Spanish football league on Sunday. The defending champion was too strong for Celta de Vigo in the first game of the new season: 1-2.
Referee José Luis Munuera Montero had a busy evening. In a riot in the 97th minute he gave red to Hugo Mallo (Celta de Vigo) and Mario Hermoso (Atlético). He also gave nine yellow cards.
Correa gave Atlético the lead halfway through the first half with a hard shot from outside the box. The equalizer came after an hour of play from a penalty kick, used by Iago Aspas. Correa gave Atlético a new lead shortly afterwards. In the hectic final phase, coach Diego Simeone’s team held out. Football was played for more than 100 minutes.
Former Feyenoord player Renato Tapia was a basic player at Celta de Vigo. Former Ajax player Luis Suárez joined Atlético from the 65th minute.