Lionel Messi opened his 2017-18 season goals account in style after scoring twice Barcelona’s 2-0 win over Deportivo Alaves in a La Liga week two fixture played at the Estadio de Mendizorroza in Vitoria on Saturday.
Ten minutes into the second period, Lionel Messi made up for his lost penalty in the opening half by putting the Catalans ahead when Jordi Alba teed up the Argentine in the box to smash the ball into the roof of Pacheco’s net.
Messi doubled Barcelona’s lead ten minutes later – this time Paco Alcácer providing the assist for the Argentine’s second of the night to ensure new signing Paulinho who played as a second half substitute got his Barca career off on a winning note as well as marking Gerard Pique’s 400th Barcelona game in style.
The victory means Barcelona maintain Barca’s 100 percent start to the season, while Alaves have now suffered a second defeat in as many games. Up next for the Catalans after the international window is the visit of noisyneighbours Espanyol on September 9, at Camp Nou whileAlaveshead to Celta de Vigo who are also in search of their first point of the season.
Barcelona had Andres Iniesta back and Paulinho among their substitutes against Alaves in La Liga thisevening. Iniesta had been struggling with a thigh injury from the Supercopa but was passed fit for the clash at Mendizorroza.
Paulinho was also free to make his Barca debut after his €40m arrival from Guangzhou Evergande, albeit coming off the bench. Elsewhere for the Catalans, Aleix Vidal was preferred to Nelson Semedo at right-back and Sergi Roberto moved to the right wing, with Lionel Messi staying on as a false 9.
Alaves famously beat Barca 2-1 at Camp Nou last season, although the Blaugrana demolished the Basques 6-0 in the return fixture, before beating them again in the Copa del Rey Final.
Starting at left-back for the hosts was Alfonso Pedraza, who spent the second half of last season onloan at English side Leeds United. However, Enzo Zidane – son of Real Madrid boss Zinedine was only named a substitute.
Alaves’ star Ruben Sobrino fluffed two glorious opportunities to put the hosts ahead.
The striker was found at the far post with a low cross but couldn’t slide the ball on target, before he broke clear down the left and veered into the box, only to shoot straight at Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
Barca’s first opportunity came from the penalty spot after Gerard Pique was dragged down by Rodrigo Ely from a corner in the box, but Messi’s curler to the left was Fernando Pacheco.
Nonetheless, the second half began with Jordi Alba teeing up the Argentine, who smashed the ball into the roof of Pacheco’s net via a deflection.
The No 10 then doubled his side’s advantage, capitalising on another deflection in the Alaves box, before blasting the ball home on the volley.
It could’ve been three for Messi and Catalans when Denis Suarez – shortly after replacing Gerard Deulofeu – laid off the superstar, whose shot clipped the woodwork.
As the game petered out, the chance arose for Paulinho to make his Barca bow, replacing none other than Iniesta.