Barcelona started their Liga title defence in style at Camp Nou on Saturday with a crushing 6-2 hammering of a Betis side who gave a fair account of themselves but could not stem the flow of the home side's attacking verve.
Luis Suárez, who topped the scoring charts in La Liga last season with 40 and scooped the European Golden Boot, kicked off his domestic campaign with a hat-trick and Leo Messi bagged a brace as Luis Enrique's side blew Gus Poyet's new project away in style. The Betis coach can take some positives from the game -- Antonio Adán's heroics prevented an even worse score line and Rubén Castro continued his scoring streak of last season -- but the gulf in class was further evidence that Betis and their peers are operating in a different league to Barcelona.
Arda Turan continued his fine pre-season form with the opening goal and new arrivals Samuel Umtiti and Denis Suárez acquitted themselves well in a Barça display of power of poise that will have been viewed with a familiar sense of dread by their Liga opponents.
Barcelona v Real Betis, as it happened
Min 92 | And that's it in Camp Nou. A marker laid down by Enrique's side as they seek to defend their title. A harsh introduction to La Liga for Gus Poyet, who will be very glad to have that one out of the way. Betis are unlikely to be that outgunned again in their next 37 fixtures.
Min 89 | Messi gets on the end of a cross but belts the ball into the nearest green and white shirt as the clock ticks down.
Min 86 | Adán! The Betis keeper makes another great stop from Roberto after another jinking run from Messi. Adán then stretches deny Rakitic, whose driving shot was going in. Wonderful work from the Betis stopper.
Min 83 | Goooooooooal! Rubén Castro pulls one back for Betis out of nothing, firing past Claudio Bravo, who treats the slo-mo camera to a few choice words. Far too late for Betis, but it embellishes the score line if nothing else.
Min 80 | Goooooooooooal! And it Suárez who will take home the match ball. The Uruguayan belts an unstoppable free kick past Adán to make it 6-1. An absolute cracker it was, creeping just inside the near post. Suárez is all smiles. That was one for the end-of-season DVD.
Min 78 | Barça are happy to stroke it about now, no real urgency to the home side's play with the points firmly in the bag. Suárez and Messi will fancy a hat-trick to round off their afternoons but Barça won't be busting a gut in the final 10 minutes.
Min 75 | Jordi Alba the man to make way for the new boy, logically. The former Roma player making his Liga debut with 15 left on the clock.
Min 74 | A fine reaction save from Adán denies Messi his hat-trick. The Argentinean did well to turn a shot goalwards first time but the Betis keeper was equal to it.
Min 73 | Lucas Digne is preparing to come on for Barça. Betis hack a corner clear in the meantime, Piqué and Umtiti were both about to have a swing at the loose ball, eager to join the fiesta.
Min 70 | Betis are not a bad side but it has been an exhibition from Barça this afternoon. Worth remembering that Enrique is missing seven first team players, including Iniesta, Neymar, Mascherano and André Gomes.
Min 69 | Luis Enrique makes his first change, Denis Suárez heading off to applause from the stands. Munir comes on to replace his fellow canterano for the final 20 minutes.
Min 67 | Betis finally break and although the cross is good, Sanabria is brushed off the ball by Samuel Umtiti. It's been a solid debut for the France international, who has looked composed on the rare occasion he's had anything to do.
Min 65 | Messi takes, but it's high over the bar and Adán breathes a sigh of relief.
Min 63 | Messi is upended on the edge of the box for a free-kick.
Min 61 | Luis Suárez goes in the book for flooring Mandi, then treats the ref to a glower as he stalks off.
Min 58 | Poyet makes his third and final change, assuredly to try and shore this up before it gets embarrassing.
Min 57 | Gooooooooal! Messi again! The Argentinean bags his second of the afternoon with a low drive from the edge of the area after Betis were dispossesed in midfield. Once again, Barça get the ball, ping it forward with crisp passing and it's in the back of the net.
Min 55 | That's brutal! Betis have a corner, which fails to clear the first man, and Barça tear down the other end of the pitch through Messi, who plays a simple ball to Arda, the Turk then squaring for Suárez to tap home. 4-1.
Min 54 | The only time Betis have the ball under control for more than a few seconds is when they are fouled. 11 from the home side so far to the visitors' three. Charly Musonda about to come on for Betis.
Min 51 | Adán makes another stop after Sergi Roberto gets a volley off from Messi's cross.
Min 50 | Betis escape a fourth as Messi beats Adán, who gets a hand to it, and Arda Turan is offside as he follows up to poke it over the line. Adán then makes a good stop from another Messi attempt. The Betis keeper deserves a spot of luck. He's been good this afternoon and that would have been a bit cruel.
Min 48 | Messi carves out a half chance for himself on the edge of the area with a flick but he can't guide the shot on target.
Min 46 | We're back underway at Camp Nou, no further changes on either side. Let's see what Gus has come up with at half time. Enrique will have just asked for more of the same after a pretty impressive first 45 from his lot.
Min 45 | And that's the half! 3-1 to Barça, with goals from Messi, Suárez and Arda Turan. Rubén Castro pulled one back with a stunning free kick but it's hard to see Betis hitting the back of the net from open play, let alone three times without reply.
Min 43 | Cejudo goes in the book for an ugly challene on Arda Turan, the first caution of the game. A little frustration setting in among the Betis ranks now.
Min 41 | Goooooooooal! 3-1 to Barça! Suárez turns in a Roberto cross with a deft touch, sliding the ball past the despairing dive of Adán. We imagine Gus Poyet will be rethinking his formation at half-time. Barça are carving through the current set-up like a samurai sword through warm butifarra.
Min 39 | Castro is floored by a combo of Piqué and Sergi Roberto, free kick to Betis from wide left, but it comes to nought and Barça break, a providential hand from Adán preventing a possible third with Suárez lurking at the far post.
Min 37 | Leo Messi! The little magician waves his wand of a left peg and beats Adán with one of his trademark cut in from the right, hit it from the edge of the area affairs. Cracking goal, 2-1!
Min 35 | And Betis make a forced change as Jonas goes off injured to be replaced by Dani Ceballos.
33 | It's all gone a bit mad... Barça insisted on playing on with the Betis players screaming for the ball to go out as a man was down in midfield, then Jordi Alba almost takes Petros' head clean off with a barmy challenge.
Min 31 | 1-1 at the half-hour mark, Piqué concedes a free-kick in midfield as Betis sought to get out of their half.
Min 28 | Messi rattles the bar with a cracking shot from inside the area. Not much Adán could have done if it had been a few inches lower.
Min 26 | Barça appeal for a penalty as Luis Suárez is bundled to the floor but the ref intimates that the Uruguayan was a tad too keen to hit the green there and it's waved away, to howls of derision from the stands. It did look he'd been held though.
Min 25 | The goal has but of spring back into Betis' step and the visitors muscle Messi off the ball and surge forward again but Sanabria dithers a little too long when a quick ball would have been dangerous.
Min 23 | Enrique won't be happy about that. Denis Suárez had little need to upend anybody there, with several players on hand to usher Betis' attack either side of the danger area.
Min 21 | And what a strike from Rubén Castro! The Betis forward leathered that one and Bravo is soundly beaten, the ball crashing into the top corner. The Barça keeper got a hand to it but the strike was too fierce. 1-1.
Min 20 | And another... Denis Suárez floors an opponent and Betis have a free-kick on the edge of the area...
Min 18 | Betis earn a free kick in the Barça half and manage to get a cross in. The rebound falls to Cejudo, who has a pop from distance but Bravo wasn't troubled by it.
Min 16 | Betis are going to have to come up with something different to get anything out of this. Lumping the ball to the lone Rubén Castro from the back simply hands possession to the home side, who flick it from side to side looking for a gap in the green and white wall.
Min 14 | Barcelona continue to probe the Betis back line, which is reinforced when not in possession with elements of Poyet's five-man midfield but the visitors can't get a foot on the ball as Enrique's side ping it about as though summer never happened.
Min 11 | Barça come again, Messi wriggling through a few defenders but his intended pass for Suárez is deflected into the paws of Adán.
Min 9 | And Barça almost pull off exactly the same trick! Messi to the onrushing Alba, the left back squares and Luis Suárez just can't quite pull the ball out from his feet. Betis' three at the back suddenly looking a bit gung-ho.
Min 7 | The Camp Nou is in full throat after that move, which was as easy as one, two, three for Barça. The Betis defence switched off and failed to track Alba's run.
Min 5 | That should cheer Lucho up. Barça open the scoring through Arda Turan, who flicks in a Jordi Alba cross after Messi switched play to the far side. 1-0 and a bit of a blow for Betis.
Min 4 | Gus Poyet urges his men on from the touchline in a crisp white shirt. It's been a decent start from Betis. Luis Enrique, arms folded, scowling as he surveys the action.
Min 2 | Betis are stroking the ball around with confidence and it takes a Piqué thumping tackle to break up a promising looking attack. Barça struggling to get the ball under their thrall but the home side break upfield, Luis Suárez just gets a little too much on a ball into the area and it's into the arms of Betis stopper Adán.
Min 1 | And we're off! The Champions get the ball rolling.
Claudio Bravo wheels out the kids and poses for a couple of shots ahead of what looks likely to be his final game for Barcelona ahead of a move to Manchester City.
Huge applause as Messi and the injured Andrés Iniesta present the cup to the Camp Nou. Betis players ignoring the whole shebang while knocking a few balls about in the other half.
The Barcelona players are out on the pitch, a gentle reminder for Betis of the task that faces the visitors as Messi and co pose with the Liga trophy.
Welcome to AS English's first live coverage of LaLiga Santander 2016/17 and we have champions Barcelona hosting Real Betis live and direct online. It's week one of LaLiga Santander and the game kicks off in the Camp Nou at 18:15 local time.
Preview of Barcelona vs Betis: LaLiga Santander Week 1
The League champions are back. After a preseason with positives (the Spanish Super Cup victory over Sevilla) and negatives (a big loss to Liverpool), FC Barcelona want to extend their reign in their domestic tournament for another year. The blaugrana have strengthened well in the summer transfer market to give them even more following a league and cup double last year. They will again be led by the outstanding MSN strikeforce, which should guarantee scintilating football and goals-a-plenty.
Tonight the Barca side will have a few regular faces missing, however, a strong group nonetheless. Out are Iniesta, Mascherano and Mathieu due to injury and of course Neymar who will today be aiming to lead his national side, Brazil, to Olympic gold.
Luis Enrique confirmed ahead of the game that the goal of the season is to be league champions once again. He also refused to accept the favourites tag that they've been given saying that even though they hold the title "everyone starts from zero" while highlighting that the challenge of winning a third consecutive league - "something that has not happened much" - is what motivates the Catalan side to keep pushing.
For their part, Real Betis arrive this season with the aim of maintaining their place at Spanish football's top table and to finish as high as possible. Gustavo Poyet joined in May and is eager to revitalise a team that lost one of their big names (Van der Vaart) this month but has nothing to lose in the first game. Betis could have a decent season and they could throw up a shock at the Camp Nou, being led by all-time top scorer Ruben Castro and Joaquin Sanchez.
Poyet will be with a full compliment other than Alex Martinez, who did not train on Thursday. The good news is that Joaquin, who was a doubt, trained during the latter part of the week and aims to make the starting eleven. The signing of Antonio Sanabria from Roma could add some more firepower to the side very reliant on Castro.
Poyet, before the clash spoke about the possibility of a playing well and winning against, in his words, "the best team in the world": "I would like to play nice football, seeing a lot of the ball" but accepted that the result is what matters.
Possible starting XIs for Barcelona - Betis
Barcelona: Bravo, Sergi Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti, Digne, Busquets, Rakitic, Denis Suárez, Messi, Arda, Luis Suárez.
Betis: Adán, Pezzella, Mandi, Bruno, Petros, Cedjudo, Jonas, Ceballos, Durmiel, Rubén Castro, Sanabria.