|Messi celebrates goal vs Alaves|
FC Barcelona kicked off their defence of La Liga at home against Alaves with a magnificent win as a brace from star man Lionel Messi and a goal from Philippe Coutinho ensured the Catalans get a fantastic 3-0 win in a game that looked pretty dominant in favour of Barca.
Coach Ernesto Valverde started a pretty unexpected lineup with Semedo at right back while Sergi Roberto joined Busquets and Rakitic in midfield with new signings Arthur, Malcom, Lenglet and Vidal all starting on the bench.
Barca didn’t waste time in making their presence felt and Messi got a chance after two minutes but his shot went wide. Alaves came with a defensive game plan but that didn’t stop Barca from getting chances as Ousmane Dembele came close twice but was denied by Pacheco and a wide shot. Messi came the closest in the first half as he struck a freekick into the crossbar. Barca was left frustrated as it was barren at halftime.
Semedo was taken off at halftime for Coutinho and Barca looked more dangerous in the second half. Messi then got the opener through a clever freekick that tricked Pacheco and the Alaves wall as the newly appointed Barca captain fired a low shot into the net. Messi came close two minutes later but his curler from inside the box hit the post again.
Coutinho then made it two on 84 minutes with a trademark shot from the left thanks to an assist from substitute and new signing Arthur Melo. Messi came close on 90 minutes but his shot was saved by Pacheco who had denied Luis Suarez from point-blank range earlier on. Messi then made it 3-0 with what would turn out to be the last kick of the game as he coolly finished from 10 yards after doing great to control a fine pass from Luis Suarez.
The win was a nice one with Barca giving a nice performance despite being a bit Rusty given the fact that the season is just kicking off. 37 games to go.