A new LaLiga season but the same old Lionel Messi as Barcelona made a winning start to their title defence with a 3-1 win over Alavés.
Messi had struck the crossbar with an earlier whipped free-kick over the wall but as Alavés were just beginning to frustrate Barça the Argentina captain opened the scoring. With his first half effort still in the minds of the visitors, the defensive wall jumped and Messi rolled the free kick underneath and into the net for Barcelona’s 6000th league goal, eight years after scoring Barça’s 5000th.
Philippe Coutinho added a second in the 83rd minute and with the last kick of the game Messi notched his second, trapping Luis Suárez’s pass on his chest, holding off two defenders and tucking the ball into the bottom corner.
And Messi controlled Luis Suarez’s pass with his chest, beat two defenders and steered a low shot into the bottom corner.
Elsewhere in LaLiga there was a hugely promising debut for Santiago Cáseres despite Villarreal suffering defeat to Real Socieded.
The 21-year-old midfielder perhaps unfortunate not to be given a chance by Lionel Scaloni in the experimental latest Argentina squad was attributed with the assist for Gerard Moreno’s opener but a horrendous error by Ramiro Funes Mori gifted Sociedad their equaliser.
Another error by Funes Mori’s centre back partner aided a second and Sociedad were able to see out the win in part due to a fine goalkeeping display by Gerónimo Rulli. The 26-year-old had an awful campaign last time which saw him miss out on the World Cup squad but is back in under Scaloni and could claim the number one position with a strong season.
In the first round of the German Cup, Bayer Leverkusen advanced after a 1-0 win over lower league club CfR Pforzheim thanks to a Lucas Alario penalty.
The 25-year-old dropped down the pecking order for Argentina but having seen the likes of Giovanni Simeone included in the latest squad, Alario will feel that the door remains open on his international career. A strong season in the Bundesliga could see the former River Plate striker force his way back in.
We probably should’ve scored a few more goals, but Alario’s penalty is enough to push us through to the next round of the #DFBPokal!#CFRB04 | 0-1 pic.twitter.com/QGsIHjhZ0g
— Bayer 04 Leverkusen (@bayer04_en) August 18, 2018
Erik Lamela is another hoping for that chance and an injury free season for Tottenham will improve the 26-year-old’s chances no end.
With Spurs doing no business in the transfer window Mauricio Pochettino will be working with the same group and knows that a fit Lamela will be a massive boost to his attacking options. The Argentine came off the bench on Saturday to immediately run at the Fulham defence from his own half and assist Harry Kane in finally breaking his run of never scoring in August.
Few players can do what Lamela is capable of on his day and a run in the Spurs team should see a return to the national team soon.
Here’s the proof if you ever required it of what Erik Lamela can bring to this Tottenham Hotspur team.
The bloke does not get anywhere near the praise he deserves.
He’s grown so much in our shirt since originally joining the club, back him.#THFC #COYSpic.twitter.com/WfQZ3bGjqs
— Last Word On Spurs🎙 (@LastWordOnSpurs) August 18, 2018
Elsewhere in England, Marcelo Bielsa’s wonderful start in Leeds actually broke a club record as El Loco became the first manager to win his first four matches in charge with victory over Rotherham.
The attractive football coming out of the Yorkshire club is drawing praise from around the country and with three wins from three plus progression in the cup, Bielsa is having a quicker impact than anyone could have imagined.
Eleven goals scored, three conceded and already that characteritic Bielsa style – the only question is how long Leeds can maintain it?
Meanwhile Bielsa ist doing this… #bielsa #lufc pic.twitter.com/2FFDm5dkci
— Stefan Oesen (@StefanOesen) August 16, 2018