Barcelona 4-2 Real Sociedad summary: scores, goals and higlights | LaLiga 2021-22
Barcelona 4-2 Real Sociedad: as it happened
Leo Messi may be gone but Barcelona gave the scattered fans in Camp Nou plenty to cheer as Ronald Koeman's side chalked up a 4-2 win over Real Sociedad to kick-start Year 1, Post-Messi. The Argentinean, undoubtedly the greatest player Barça have ever witnessed and one of the finest ever to play the game, will be missed but if his departure paves the way for more complete team performances like this, the Camp Nou faithful may be quicker to forget, if not to forgive, if a pointed and sustained chorus of the departed number 10's name in the 10th minute was any indication.
In the meantime, Barça fans are walking in Memphis, the Dutchman's display a sign of carefree attacking verve to come. A flick here, a run there, an incisive ball to create an opening... He may not be a genius, but he's shiny and new and sometimes that's all that's required to make it all better. He also knows he has a remit to entertain and appears set on doing exactly that.
Add in Martin Braithwaite scoring not his first but his first and second Barça goals in a year and a half - and providing the assist for the fourth - and an all-round display of selflessness from Antoine Griezmann and the new, if temporary, front three acquitted themselves well. Sergio Agüero, Ousmane Dembélé and Marc-André ter Stegen watched from the stands - not that the German would have been able to do much more than Neto for La Real's two goals.
Ansu Fati's imminent return, the presence of Rey Manaj and the "Austrian Messi" Yusuf Demir among Koeman's unused substitutes and the undiluted brilliance of the tireless Pedri, whose name was also sung in the stands, suggest it's not all that bleak for Barça after all.
After more than a decade of fixation on every aspect of Messi, the idea that the team could step in to fill the void collectively seems to have been overlooked. It was only one game, it was far from perfect, but there was enough there to suggest PM needn't be the long, dark night it has been billed as.
And there's the whistle! Barcelona win a pulsating encounter 4-2! Whisper it quietly, but there may be life after Messi after all.
Barça clear but Barrenetxea bamboozles with a Zidane turn and hits a shot just over!
Another La Real fee kick...
Braithwaite adds an assist to his evening's tally as he squares for the La Masia graduate with what the locals call a "medio gol." All Roberto has to do is tap in and Barça have a two-goal cushion again!
Five minutes added!
It's Memphis who makes way for Lenglet as Barça switch to a three central defender formation.
Barrenetxea floors Alba and Barça knock the free kick backwards. Koeman preparing another change. Five minutes is a long time in football.
Well, well. We believe Alex Ferguson used to call this "squeaky bum time..."
Gooooooooool! Oyarzabal! What a strike! Straight into the top corner beyond the despairing dive of Neto!
La Real have a free kick on the edge of the area now....
Goooooooool! Lobete! What a story for the debutant, who gets his first senior goal against Barcelona at Camp Nou, beating Emerson to a cross and clipping the ball past Neto!
The Camp Nou gives Griezmann a round of applause as the Frenchman mops up in defence.
Le Normand goes into the book for reminding Memphis he's there.
Another hydration pause for the players as the cameras pan to a smiling Kun Agüero. Messi or no Messi, he must be looking forward to getting on the end of some of the chances Barça have created this evening.
Pedri! Nicely worked from Barça with the move ending at the feet of the Spain midfielder, who fires over from close range.
Dest and De Jong off for Barcelona, Emerson and Sergi Roberto on.
Andoni Gorosabel and La Real B striker Julen Lobete enter the fray.
Merino! What a strike from distance by the La Real midfielder and Neto makes an equally great save.
Aihen goes into the book for clattering into Pedri.
Some "olés" ringing out across Camp Nou now.
Alba gets to the byline and sends in a cross that Remiro can only palm into the path of the Dane, who says thanks very much and hammers home from close range!
Busquets into the book for tripping Bautista but the replays show the La Real forward tripped over his own feet! You have to laugh. Busquets doesn't though.
Twenty-two of 22 passes completed by Frenkie de Jong.
Oyarzabal again! This time the La Real captain flashes a shot across the face of goal and just wide at the far post.
Oyarzabal! The Spain forward drives into the area through a couple of challenges and gets a shot off but it's deflected onto the roof of the net for a corner.
Jordi Alba... oh my word. The defender is clean through and only has to find the target but clips the bottom of the post with his effort. Koeman is furious as he could have squared for an unmarked Griezmann there.
Griezmann has the ball in the back of the net but De Jong is flagged offside as he delivers to the Frenchman.
Ander Barrenetxea also on for La Real, Januzaj making way.
We're back underway!
Silva off at half time, Jon Bautista on.
There was a huge ovation for Piqué earlier in the evening after the defender agreed to a huge pay cut so that the club could afford to register Memphis, Eric García and Rey Manaj.
And there's the whistle for the half! Barça are applauded off after an excellent 45 and Koeman will be more than happy with what he's seen so far.
De Jong with a fine delivery to the far post and the Dane is there to power a header past Remiro!
Two minutes added
Barça try a training ground routine but La Real read it and break through Oyarzabal. The home side are back quickly to snuff out the danger though.
A mistake from Merino lets Braithwaite in and Remiro makes a solid stop but Barça have a free kick on the edge of the area for a subsequent handball.
La Real have at least stemmed the Barça tide for now and are much more competitive in midfield.
And it's the silken boot of Silva that releases Oyarzabal on the left to win La Real's first corner of the game.
David Silva is acting as something of a midfield enforcer now, flooring Memphis after getting a chunk of Griezmann a few minutes ago. Needless to say, being Silva, he's quite good at it.
Zubimendi finds his way into the book for a late challenge on Pedri.
Imanol has sent out some subs to warm up already. He clearly doesn't like what he is seeing at the moment.
Januzaj skips through a couple of challenges but runs the ball out on the byline. It just isn't clicking for La Real up top at the moment.
Memphis will get the magic sponge treatment after some studs from Elustondo as the players pause for a hydration break.
La Real launch their first real attack of the game with Silva conducting, but it fizzles out as Elustondo tries to fire through a wall of defenders.
Memphis! The forward spots Remiro off his line and tries to chip him from 35 yards! Decent effort too, forcing the La Real keeper into a scrambling save.
Memphis! Braithwaite clips a first-time ball into the area and the Dutchman makes contact, forcing a smart and brave stop from Remiro.
It's definitely too early for any conclusions, and La Real have been extremely compliant so far, but Barça don't look too bad at all.
Alba plays a wonderful ball through the middle for Memphis but Remiro is off his line quickly to gather.
Gooooooool! Piqué! The Dutchman whips in a glorious ball and Piqué rises to nod home! The veteran defender makes a show of kissing the badge.
Barça have a free kick from a long way out... Memphis eyeing it up.
David Silva fouls Sergio Busquets, like it's 2008.
Barça are moving the ball crisply, finding spaces and preventing La Real from offering anything in attack. Koeman would have taken that before the game.
Griezmann! A combination of Remiro's fingertips and the bar denies the Barça forward the opener after a fine cross from Memphis.
Chants of "Messi, Messi" ring out across Camp Nou.
Griezmann! He has landed those before and the Frenchman isn't far away with an acrobatic overhead.
Memphis is at the heart of all of Barça' attacking intent at the moment and he tries to get through four defenders on his own.
It's all Barça at the moment with La Real pinned back in their own half. This is the response Koeman will have demanded from his players after a far-from-ideal summer.
What a wonderful touch from Memphis, flicking the ball over Le Normand and being hauled down by the Frenchman in response. He's determined to entertain on his competitive debut.
Griezmann! A couple of deft touches to lose his marker and the Frenchman gets a shot off but it's high. Lively start from the hosts.
Braithwaite! Nice interchange with Memphis and the Dane forces Remiro into a save.
Teams are in the tunnels now and we're about to get underway!
And probably a few choice words aimed at the men in suits.
Plenty of Messi shirts on the backs of fans filing into Camp Nou. We can expect a huge cheer in the 10th minute for the departed club legend.
For an in-depth look at Barcelona's squad for this season, the players that have arrived, those that have left and what the Camp Nou faithful can expect in the rest of the summer window, look no further.
Barcelona starting XI confirmed
Few surprises from Koeman in his line-up with experience preferred to youth for the most part, Pedri aside but the 18-year-old is already a veteran after playing practically every game last season. Griezmann, Braithwaite and Memphis will lead the line with García making his competitive debut alongside Piqué.
Real Sociedad starting XI confirmed
David Silva starts for the visitors with Oyarzabal and Januzaj also included from the start.
La Real will certainly be up for this one after their recent run of results against Barcelona - eight losses and a draw in the last nine Liga meetings between the sides.
While Real Sociedad recorded a four-year period of being the only side in Spain Barça could not beat away from home, the visitors have not won a game at Camp Nou in their last 21 attempts.
La Real finished fifth last season and won the Copa del Rey the year before that and Imanol has the bulk of those two squads still at his disposal. The Basques have done little in the market themselves, bringing in only keeper Mat Ryan and full back Diego Rico, but there are plenty of players who can turn this game in the visitors' favour.
Mikel Oyarzabal is now a regular in the Spain team and this could prove to be a breakthrough season for Ander Barrenetxea. Adnan Januzaj is now an old hand and the return of Willian José will provide something a bit different up front and a guarantee of goals while David Silva remains a class act in the string-pulling department.
Koeman's first Barcelona squad of the season
Koeman has gone for youth in his first squad, unsurprisingly as he will have to draw heavily on Barça B this season, with Albanian striker Manaj and the "Austrian Messi," Yusuf Demir, both included.
Koeman reportedly asked the Camp Nou board for two new signings after Messi's departure and was told no dice - the club coffers are empty and Gerard Piqué was asked to take a huge pay cut just so that Barça could register the ones they have already got in Memphis Depay, Eric García and Rey Manaj. Sergio Agüero is injured until at least October, adding to Koeman's woes.
Barcelona adjust to life without Messi
There will be fans in Camp Nou today as supporters are gradually allowed back into stadiums in Spain but there will be one significant absence. There is no getting around the fact that losing Leo Messi to PSG was a huge blow to Barça on and off the pitch and Ronald Koeman has to figure out how to account for the loss of the one of the greatest players of all time using what he has at his disposal as there will be no reinforcements for the Dutchman this summer.
Barcelona vs Real Sociedad: welcome
Hello and welcome to AS English's live coverage of the LaLiga week one match between Barcelona and Real Sociedad from Camp Nou. Kick-off is at 20:00 CEST.