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Deportivo La Coruña
August 24, 2014
• Camp Nou, Barcelona
Referee: Fernando Teixeira Vitienes
• Attendance: 68105
L. Messi 42', 63'
Munir El Haddadi 46'
Iniesta and Munir also hit the crossbar, with the scoreline flattering Elche somewhat - especially as Bravo had nothing to do on his league debut. Barcelona kick off their campaign in winning fashion in front of a satisfied Camp Nou, but Elche were incredibly negative. That's all we've got time for, I've been Simon Harrison and I hope to see you again next time!
FULL TIME! It's a routine 3-0 victory to kick off this La Liga campaign for Barcelona, with two goals from Lionel Messi and one from Munir enough for Luis Enrique's men. Mascherano was sent off in the first half, but Escriba's side couldn't make their numerical advantage count.
90' + 3'
Pedro is denied well by the gangly legs of Tyton! The Spaniard races through on goal under heavy pressure from his marker, but can't place a finish beyond the onrushing goalkeeper!
90' + 2'
Barcelona press in a pack high up the field in the dying minutes, with the crowd perhaps demanding another goal from their side. Escriba's side have remained organised, but it has been a very, very negative outing from the visitors.
There are three minutes of stoppage time, as Jonathas is led from the pitch hobbling by Elche's physios.
We're into the dying embers of the game, with Lionel Messi's double and Munir's solitary goal seeming to be more than enough for the Blaugrana. Elche have effectively given up, in what has been a very dull final 20 minutes.
Barcelona's pressing continues to be impressive, appearing to be a real hallmark of the new Enrique regime. The training sessions are supposed to be more intensive, with plenty more miles put in on the field of play too. Rakitic is penalised for a high foot on Rodrigues.
Elche appear happy to take a 3-0 defeat, sitting in their shape and lacking any kind of urgency. After losing 4-0 on their last visit to Camp Nou, however, you can forgive their willingness to settle for a comfortable defeat.
Pedro is playing as the lone frontman, offering Barcelona some pace over the top if they want to go long. Enrique's side do have the patience to play from the back, but aren't afraid to go slightly more direct when asked.
Ten minutes until the job is done for Enrique's men. Messi is felled in full flight by Jonathas, earning himself some jeers from the home crowd. This fixture definitely has a sense of inevitability about it now, with Escriba's men showing nothing in the way of resurgence.
Another change for Barca, with Iniesta being replaced by Sergi Roberto for the last quarter of an hour. Elche are enjoying more of the ball in forward areas, but Bravo remains a complete spectator. As debuts go, he's had a leisurely one!
Albacar is picked out on the flank in space, before trying to float in a cross with his specialist left foot. Bartra is on hand at the near post to hook the ball clear!
Pedro unleashes from 25 yards, but places his powerful strike straight at Tyton! The Polish 'keeper is happy to parry, punching well clear and ensuring that none of the home side can prey from the scraps.
Dani Alves races down the right, before whipping a devilish ball into the path of Pedro! The Spaniard can't quite stretch enough to get telling contact on the cross, but the substitute raises a positive thumb to thank his teammate for what was a good ball.
The tempo has really been sucked from the game, with Barcelona happy to slow things down and bait Elche forward. Escriba has definitely ordered his defensive line to push right up, but they aren't acting as foundation for any meaningful attacks. Suarez blazes over from 25 yards.
There's brief confusion as Messi tries to take a throw-in which has been given Elche's way, but Albacar finally manages to take the ball off the Argentine. 20 minutes remain for Elche to claw their way back into the contest.
Pedro is nearly put in behind enemy lines immediately, but Tyton is hurriedly off his line to collect the ball on the edge of his box. Barcelona are much happier to sit back and counter themselves now, with Elche being forced to hold onto the ball and build from the back. Roles reversal, for now.
Munir El Haddadi
Pedro is now introduced for the hosts, with Munir the man replaced. The 18-year-old gets a standing ovation after his goal, but the Spaniard coming on in his place definitely has a big point to prove this evening. He needs to show his worth to Enrique.
Messi makes it look so incredibly easy, essentially confirming that his side will be opening the season with three points. Even Enrique is smiling on the substitutes' bench, the new Barca coach couldn't have dreamed of a better first competitive day in the job.
GOOOOOOAL! TWO FOR MESSI! The Argentine collects a failed pass, before jinking back onto his left foot and placing a beautiful finish into the bottom left corner from 16 yards! So relaxed and calm! Barca lead 3-0!
Half an hour left on the clock and Barcelona are in full control. The hosts are happy to be patient in possession, with Elche starting to be slightly braver with their pressing - possibly due to the fact they have little to lose at this point.
Elche need some inspiration from somewhere, as Bravo remains a spectator in the Barcelona penalty area. The Chile international will need to remain extremely alert, should he switch off for even a moment, a counter-attack from the visitors could punish him.
Another chance! Bartra is the man fed in behind Elche's lines on this occasion, but Tyton is quick off his line to athletically deny the substitute. Barcelona are looking in the mood for more goals!
Messi denied by a good hand from Tyton! Iniesta dances across the face of goal, before sliding Dani Alves in behind Albacar. The Brazilian crosses from the byline, but Messi's contact isn't enough to beat the goalkeeper.
Yellow Card Mario Pasalic
A few substitutes warm up for the home side, as Enrique may want to keep things fresh due to the additional workload of going down to ten men. Iniesta fells Pasalic, but the young Croatian is fine to continue. The young debutant hasn't been able to impose himself on the game thus far.
Bravo is asked to make his first contribution of the second half, rising comfortably to claim a looping cross. Messi nearly manages to race in behind Elche's lines, but Albacar does just enough to shield the ball back to Tyton.
Barcelona are prepared to sit into a 4-4-1- off the ball, leaving Messi alone up top. Munir and Rafinha are being asked to track back more in Mascherano's absence, but the general team work ethic makes this transition rather less unfamiliar.
Despite being down to ten men, Barcelona have started this second half as they began the first. Elche are pressing slightly higher up the field, but with Busquets and Rakitic sitting deep, the hosts can go more direct.
Goal Munir El Haddadi
GOOOOOOOAL! MUNIR GETS THE SECOND! The 18-year-old finds the back of the net with a fantastic flicked finish, something Messi would be proud of! Barcelona are in control of this game, with Rakitic carving Elche apart with the aid of a deflection!
We are back underway in the second half at Camp Nou! Barca have a one goal advantage as it stands, but will be keen to slip another couple of goals past a defensive Elche to wrap up the points. It won't be quite as simple as that, though.
Be sure to rejoin us in ten minutes time for all of the second half action, as Barcelona look to close out a first day victory despite being a men short. Enrique may look to make a change to re-address the balance in the side, but the Blaugrana have looked strong.
There's a real intensity about Enrique's side, who have dominated from start to finish, with the pitch-invading cat spending more time on the pitch than Elche have on the ball. Munir and Iniesta have struck the woodwork, but Tyton continues to count his blessings in goal.
HALF TIME! Barcelona lead 1-0, but they'll have to close out the game with only ten men! Lionel Messi netted the opener a few minutes before the break, but Javier Mascherano has already taken an early bath after bringing down Rodrigues as last man.
45' + 2'
Barcelona are happy to sit back and retain the ball with their ten men, with Elche bound to take new inspiration from Mascherano taking an early shower. This game isn't over as a contest quite yet.
Plenty of drama in the last few minutes of the half! Albacar tries his luck from the free-kick, as something of a specialist, but Bravo watches it over his crossbar. The Chilean goalkeeper has had nothing whatsoever to do.
Red Card Javier Mascherano
RED CARD FOR MASCHERANO! Rodrigues breaks away beyond the last man for Elche, basically from kick-off! The Argentine steps across the trailing legs of the forward, leaving the referee with no choice! He clipped his heels there.
GOOOOOAL! LIONEL MESSI OPENS THE SCORING! It had to be him! Receiving possession on the edge of the box, he turns and stays strong enough to slide home a brilliant finish! Barca lead 1-0!
Munir and Messi combine once again, but the youngster can't apply the finish! It bobbles wide of the target, as something of a cross-cum-shot, with the home crowd perhaps getting slightly frustrated that the Blaugrana are yet to make their pressure count.
Elche continue to sit extremely deep, inviting Barcelona's pressure onto them. Munir drives down the left, before cutting a square ball back to Messi, who is unable to turn it home with his first touch. Suarez recovers well to hoof the danger behind for a corner.
Rakitic picks out another brilliant ball over the top for Messi, which the Argentine tries to turn over Tyton first-time. He succeeds, but the Polish goalkeeper is able to backpedal and push the ball over the crossbar. The linesman's flag, however, is raised for offside - it wouldn't have counted anyway.
Alba is picked out on the left-hand side excellently, with Suarez unable to intercept. The left-back whips in cross from the byline, but it's far too heavy, with Rafinha nor Messi unable to even attempt to attack it! Only Messi appears to have the keys to unlock Elche.
Dani Alves now goes close! The Brazilian steams into the penalty area totally unmarked, meeting the corner delivery on the volley! He can only sidefoot it narrowly wide of the target, but that's some real ingenuity from a dead ball situation from Enrique's side.
INIESTA STRIKES THE BAR! It's quite a strike from the Spaniard, who only has one thought in his mind! He lets fly from 25 yards, with Tyton unable to get a glove to the effort! A corner is given, though it didn't appear to strike an Elche defender.
Still no goals as the half-time interval comes ever closer. Rakitic appears to be in some discomfort, with Sergi Roberto sent to warm up in case the former Sevilla man needs to be replaced. Barcelona are dominating, but can't penetrate the penalty area.
Messi shows his desire to work for the side by chasing back and committing a rather cynical foul on Coro - but the referee lets the Barcelona man escape without a card. Rodrigues bursts into the penalty area from the right-hand side, but Mascherano is able to tidy up after a poor second touch from the breaking midfielder.
Excellent combination play from Rakitic and Messi! The Argentine dances around two challenges wonderfully, before exchanging a one-two with the Croatian - who returns the ball with a clever flick. Messi tries to chase the loose ball, but Lomban is there to clear again.
Five minutes until we reach the half hour mark and Enrique will be hoping for an opening goal to settle things down. Barca have had their chances, but Tyton is yet to be forced into any saves - although his woodwork helped him out most recently.
It's now Messi's turn to shoot, after a smart pivot on the edge of the box, but the Argentina international can't keep the ball down. The hosts' pressure is relentless, with Elche really struggling to get any kind of foothold.
Munir goes close! The 18-year-old is cheered by the home fans after nearly managing to convert the opening goal of Barcelona's campaign! He turns smartly, before cracking a left-footed effort off the post!
There are muted appeals for a penalty as Lomban prevents Alba's cross, but the referee isn't interested. Garry Rodrigues then clips Iniesta a bit late unintentionally, but the Spain international is fine to continue after a few seconds splayed on the turf.
Elche are penned in their own half, with Barcelona dominating possession as expected. Jonathas has been the only man to look bright for the away side, who are breaking out of their siege extremely rarely. The Brazilian shoots from range after beating Mathieu for pace, but blazes high and wide.
Barcelona work the ball upfield patiently, before finding Iniesta in a pocket of space centrally. The experienced midfielder drives forward, but his attempted strike is blocked. Moments later, Munir is fed in behind the Barca lines, but Lomban gets across well to clear the danger.
Another set piece is played short by Barcelona, with Rakitic the beneficiary. The Croatia international cuts inside onto his right foot, before unleashing a ferocious strike! It veers wide of goal, but the hosts are looking sharp.
Alba works hard to break to the byline and hook a cross in towards the back post, but Rafinha can't rise high enough to meet it! Barcelona retain the ball, however, before working it back out to their full-back. He whips in a second delivery, but Pellegrin clears behind.
Rakitic is next to earn the Camp Nou's applause, racing to slide in and keep a loose ball in play. A goal appears to be building, with the club's fans liking what they're seeing thus far. Elche are remaining disciplined and preying off sloppy passes.
Lionel Messi is looking bright already. The Argentine drops deep, before scooping a through ball effortlessly over the Elche defence for Alves to chase. The Brazilian full-back manages to get there, but is flagged offside. Wonderful pass from the Argentine nonetheless - the stadium sounds its approval.
Barcelona are settling down, with it clear that Elche are aiming for damage limitation already. The away side are playing on the break, though it will be tough for their players to make up the yardage required to test a rather lonely Claudio Bravo.
Elche are already sitting very deep off the ball, with two banks of four or even a deep midfielder slotting into the defensive line when asked. Escriba's side are leaving their offensive ventures in the hands of Coro and Jonathas.
Barcelona immediately exert control on the game. Rakitic picks out Messi with a scything pass, but the Argentine's first touch lets him down - you won't see that too often. Enrique is already on the edge of his technical area, barking out instructions.
Munir works the ball inside to Messi on the break, before the Argentine picks out Rafinha. The Brazilian dances inside Albacar, but is robbed of the ball by the recovering Pelegrin. Plenty of space for the Barca forward, who Enrique has plenty of faith in, but the opportunity disappears!
After a minute or so, the stewards manage to get rid of our feline friend and play can begin. The atmosphere is excellent inside the stadium, with plenty of expectation at the start of the season. Garry Rodriguez musters up a tame effort from range, but drags it wide of the target.
Play is halted, as a black cat goes scampering across the field! Hopefully it isn't a sign for the hosts, but everyone affords a smile as the animal runs about the turf. The stewards can't seem to get it off, however.
We are underway in the first half! The hosts are big favourites, but following Eibar's opening day victory in the Spanish top flight, Elche might just be able to tacke some inspiration! Barcelona will be wanting to send a statement out to the rest of the competition this evening. The away side are in white and green, while Barca are in their famous blue and red stripes.
There are only ten minutes remaining before kick-off, so be sure to stick around for all of the action at Camp Nou, for the Catalans' league curtain-raiser. Plenty of expection rests upon the shoulders of teenage talent Munir!
It's an entirely Spanish bench for Barcelona tonight, due to a range of circumstances. New goalkeeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen is injured, as is Neymar, while Gerard Pique and Luis Suarez are suspended. Thomas Vermaelen, recently purchased from Arsenal, is also sidelined through injury. This is by no means a full-strength Blaugrana squad, but they will be aiming for a good performance regardless.
Elche substitutes: Fajr, Cisma, Aaron Niguez, Manu Herrera, Adrian, Alvaro Gimenez, Samu.
Elche starting line-up: Tyton; Suarez, Lomban, Sergio Pelegrin, Edu Albacar; Jose Angel, Mosquera, Pasalic; Rodrigues, Jonathas, Coro.
Barcelona substitutes: Jordi Masip, Martin Montoya, Sergi Roberto, Xavi, Sandro Ramirez, Pedro, Bartra.
Barcelona starting line-up: Bravo; Dani Alves, Mathieu, Mascherano, Jordi Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Rafinha, Messi, Munir.
TEAM NEWS: Elche give a debut to a youngster themselves, with 19-year-old Mario Pasalic, on loan from Chelsea, starting in midfield. Fellow loanee Przemyslaw Tyton starts in goal, while Pedro Mosquera is deployed on the flank after signing from Getafe. Faycal Fajr is on the bench, following a move from France's Ligue 2. Plenty of players have left and arrived, in a busy transfer window for Escriba.
TEAM NEWS: Munir is given a start for Barcelona, after an excellent pre-season, with big things expected of the 18-year-old forward. Claudio Bravo is in between the posts, with fellow summer signing Jeremy Mathieu ahead of him in central defence. Javier Mascherano sits back to partner the Frenchman. Ivan Rakitic debuts as part of a midfield three, with Lionel Messi and Rafinha needing to provide inspiration in advanced areas.
I'm Simon Harrison and I will be keeping you up to date with all of the action, as the Catalan giants look to open the campaign in style. The title is presumably the aim for Enrique's side, with an early three points the best way to get started. Elche, meanwhile, will be pleased to take away anything more than a thrashing, after suffering a 4-0 defeat here last season.
Hello and welcome to live coverage of Barcelona's opening game of La Liga, as Elche visit Camp Nou facing a rather stern test. Luis Enrique may not have Luis Suarez at his disposal quite yet, nor Neymar, but the new Blaugrana coach has plenty of other stars available. Nevertheless, Fran Escriba's side might fancy their chances, given that the hosts are going through something of a transitional period at the moment.
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