Barcelona provide Real Madrid with perfect response
Champions Barcelona produced the perfect response to bitter rivals Real Madrid here on Monday as they overwhelmed Champions League qualifiers Villarreal 5-0 in their opening league match of the season.
A double by Lionel Messi plus goals on their league debuts for summer acquisitions Cesc Fabregas and Alexis Sanchez after an opener from Thiago came just a day after Real had thrashed Real Zaragoza 6-0.
Barcelona's win, though, is an ominous sign for Real Madrid as Villarreal are considered a far stronger side than Zaragoza.
The Catalan side are in the hunt for their fourth consecutive league triumph and having started the season by lifting the domestic and European Super Cups they showed no mercy against a Villarreal side who spent the match chasing shadows.
On paper Barcelona appeared to have problems with Carlos Puyol, Gerard Pique and Dani Alves all missing from the defence but coach Pep Guardiola reverted to a 3-4-3 formation made famous by his mentor Johan Cruyff as Barcelona handler in the early 1990s.
Thiago and Fabregas, both starting the game in the centre of the pitch, made it 2-0 by half-time, while a strike from Villarreal's Italian striker Giuseppe Rossi that went narrowly wide was all the visitors could muster.
Sanchez opened his account for Barca with a goal after the break before a Messi double completed the scoring.
Cristiano Ronaldo had led the way for Real Madrid on Sunday as he scored a hat-trick in the thumping of Zaragoza.
Ronaldo was the joint highest goal scorer with Messi in Spain last season with 53 goals and midway through the first half he put Real ahead by converting a Mesut Ozil pass.
Marcelo quickly added a second as Real peppered the Zaragoza goal.
The home side were never in the contest and in the second half Real's domination was reflected in the scoring with Xabi Alonso (63) and Kaka (81) finding the back of the net along with two more goals from Ronaldo after 70 and 86 minutes.
Along with Villarreal, Valencia are set to be in the hunt for a Champions League place this season and a late double from Roberto Soldado completed his hat-trick and saw Valencia come from behind to beat Racing Santander 4-3.
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