Lionel Messi scored Barcelona's 6000th goal in LaLiga as the champions sealed a 3-0 win over Deportivo Alaves on Saturday.
The Argentina star swept in a clever free-kick midway through the second half before Philippe Coutinho netted a fine second, with Messi doubling his tally late on to secure all three points for Ernesto Valverde's side.
Alaves did little to trouble Barca's goal even after going behind, but it was far from a convincing display from the hosts, who handed league debuts to Arthur and Arturo Vidal in the second half.
Barca looked laboured despite all their possession in the first half, with creativity at a premium in Coutinho's absence, although captain Messi hit the bar with a free-kick and Ousmane Dembele fired straight at Fernando Pacheco when through one-on-one.
Coutinho was introduced at half-time for full-back Nelson Semedo, but there was little to get the 52,356 fans inside Camp Nou out of their seats until the 64th minute, when Messi sent a free-kick under the wall and into the net.
The Argentina star struck the woodwork again despite nearly slipping over in the build-up, before Luis Suarez – making his 200th appearance for the club – was denied by Pacheco when capitalising on a defensive slip.
Barca secured an opening-day win for the 10th time in succession eight minutes from time, though, when Coutinho rifled home from just inside the area, before Messi brought down Suarez's pass and slotted home with the last kick.
What does it mean: Valverde's men still in pre-season mode
This was the 10th season in a row in which Barca have won their first LaLiga match, and Messi's free-kick was certainly a fine way to mark the occasion, but there is much work to be done.
The champions were far too ponderous in possession throughout, with midfielders reluctant to run from deep and Dembele too often surrendering the ball when trying to stretch Alaves' rigid 4-5-1 set-up.
It rather felt like a friendly match, with more than 40,000 seats going unused in the stands and Barca never getting out of third gear, while the visitors made no change to their approach even after going behind.
They will improve in the coming weeks, but this was not a display to leave Real Madrid or Atletico Madrid feeling unduly concerned.
Pat on the back: Messi still Barca's main man
It was fitting that Barca's 6000th goal in the top flight was scored by the man who got their 5000th back in 2009.
Messi, on his first league outing as club captain and without Andres Iniesta at the club, clipped the bar in the first half before trying a different tactic to put his side ahead in the second. Some sublime close control and a deft finish added late gloss to the scoreline.
With Suarez and Dembele off the boil and Coutinho only introduced off the bench, it fell on Messi to become the main creator and goal threat for his side, and only the woodwork denied him a hat-trick.
6.4% - Barcelona have scored 6000 goals in La Liga history, 6.4% of them scored by Lionel Messi (384 goals). Icon. pic.twitter.com/H7DWsEECeg— OptaJose (@OptaJose) August 18, 2018
Boot up the backside: Dembele frustrates again
Dembele looked ready for an explosive start to the season when he blasted in the winner in the Supercopa de Espana, but this was another forgettable outing at Camp Nou for the forward.
He squandered two decent first-half chances with poor finishes after failing to pick out Messi in a two-on-one situation, and his runs in the final third too often ended in possession being gifted to Alaves.
Key Opta Facts
15 - Lionel Messi is the first player in La Liga to score in 15 consecutive seasons in the 21st century (385 goals). Critical. pic.twitter.com/JYMXnU2anZ— OptaJose (@OptaJose) August 18, 2018
- Barcelona are the second team in LaLiga history to reach 6000 goals in the competition (6002 goals), after Real Madrid (6041 goals).
- Lionel Messi is the first player to score in 15 consecutive LaLiga seasons in the 21st century (385 goals).
- Barcelona have scored 6002 goals in LaLiga history, 6.4 per cent of them scored by Lionel Messi (385 goals).
- Luis Suarez has equalled Dani Alves as the player with the most assists to Lionel Messi in LaLiga (26 apiece).
Next up for Barca is a trip to Real Valladolid next Saturday, the promoted side having held Girona to a 0-0 draw in the first match back in LaLiga.
Alaves also play in a week's time, with Real Betis the visitors to Mendizorrotza looking to bounce back from a humbling 3-0 home loss to Levante.
23 de enero 2019
|Higuain set to sign for Chelsea but won´t face Tottenham – Sarri|
|McGillvary injury blow for Giants|
|Solari praises Marcelo amid exit rumours|
|A-League Review: Joy and pain for De Jong as Sydney close gap|
|Halfpenny, Davies and Williams set to miss France clash|
|India to rest Kohli from back end of New Zealand tour|
|The hand is good - Farrell expects to be fit to face Ireland|
|Martinez leaves Arsenal for Reading loan|
|Beckham becomes Salford City shareholder|
|Maradona hopes Sala will be found alive|
|Djokovic will not discuss potential Nadal showdown yet|
|A Federer-Nadal double? Even historic scalps may not be enough for Tsitsipas|
|Raonic to assess knee injury, hopes to avoid surgery|
|Barcelona right to fine ´complicated´ Dembele, says Ter Stegen|
|Higuain and Piatek on the move on busy day for Milan|
|Philippe and Vince humble the Hurricanes|
|Nishikori: I couldn´t beat anybody on one leg|
|Boateng poised for debut as Barcelona axe Suarez|
|Shami sets record in crushing win after sun stops play|
|Sala search focused on possible use of life raft|
|Pouille exceeds own expectations with run to Aus Open semis|
|Nishikori retirement sees Djokovic through to semi-finals|
|A golden boy, a guy you want to love - Delecroix pays emotional tribute to Sala|
|Richardson, Patterson to make Australia debuts against Sri Lanka|
|Police resume search for missing Sala plane|
|Pouille upsets Raonic to reach Australian Open semis|
|Dunk sees Stars past Strikers|
|How Serena gave up 5-1 lead – the key moments of loss to Pliskova|
|Pliskova enjoys ´best comeback´ after stunning Serena|
|Serena not blaming ankle injury for Australian Open loss|
|Mavericks capitalise on Clippers´ turnovers, pick up win in Smith´s return|
|Pliskova saves four match points to stun Serena with comeback win|
|Anthony ´can only make´ a team better, says Iverson|
|Henry more worried about Monaco´s future than his own|
|Osaka powers past Svitolina in Melbourne|
|Harden on Anthony trade: It kind of sucks that it didn´t work out|
|Redskins remain ´optimistic´ QB Alex Smith will play again|
|Patriots coach Belichick says Rams´ Donald is ´pretty much unblockable´|
|PSG fined €100,000 by LFP over player-recruitment practices|
|I´m not his father - Guardiola demands Mendy matures|
|Sykes record in vain as Banvit claim victory|
22 de enero 2019
|Usain Bolt calls time on football career|
|Otamendi not happy at Man City, says Guardiola|
|Workaholic Woods learning to rest as he prepares for 2019 debut|
|Henry´s Monaco dumped out of Coupe de France|
|Qatar can win Asian Cup, says Sanchez|
|Tim Howard to retire following 2019 MLS season|
|Koscielny backs Bellerin to return from injury ´stronger than before´|
|Chiefs fire DC Bob Sutton after AFC Championship loss to Patriots|
|Reyes returns to Spain with second-tier strugglers Extremadura|
|Emiliano Sala: Profile of Cardiff City striker missing after joining from Nantes|
|Messi rested for Sevilla trip, Boateng set for debut|
|Nuno fined over pitch celebration in Leicester win|
|Nadal unfazed by another Next Gen opponent in Tsitsipas|
|Ulster hand lifetime ban to spectator after Zebo abuse|
|Phehlukwayo´s career-best day inspires Proteas against Pakistan|
|Bournemouth pounce for Brentford´s Mepham|
|You say all signings are controversial – Valverde defends Boateng arrival|
|Search for missing Sala plane suspended|
|Kohli and Williamson display mutual respect as India and Black Caps prepare for battle|
|Qatar 1 Iraq 0: Al Rawi free-kick books quarter-final spot|
|Ba joins Adebayor and Robinho at Istanbul Basaksehir|
|BREAKING NEWS: Tottenham´s Alli out until March with hamstring injury|
|Fit-again Joseph added to England squad|
|It is very, very serious for us - Tuchel wants midfielder in January window|
|Lakers expect Rajon Rondo back Thursday as LeBron James continues rehab|
|Atletico Madrid boosted as Koke thigh injury revealed to be minor|
|South Korea 2 Bahrain 1 (after extra time): Kim Jin-su seals quarter-final spot|
|AC Milan confirm Zapata thigh injury|
|I miss him a lot - Guardiola confirms ´clever´ Mendy back in Man City squad|