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.
|Ranieri targets defensive improvements at failing Fulham|
|PSG close investigation into player recruitment practices after finding no discrimination|
|Mayweather: Nasukawa exhibition back on|
|Witsel: Joining Borussia Dortmund my best career decision|
|Ballon d´Or win would not change Modric´s ´best year´|
|Ireland v New Zealand: Opta stats behind the meeting of the world´s top two|
|The Breakdown: A statistical look at Saturday´s rugby internationals|
|Batshuayi dismisses reports of Valencia departure|
|Brazil must make Copa America final – Tite|
|Rockets rout Warriors as Green goes scoreless|
|Seahawks rally past Packers|
|Lakers G Rondo to miss 4-5 weeks|
|Durant is done with questions about Green|
|Smith, Warner set to return to IPL in 2019|
|No rivalry between Mbappe and Griezmann – Deschamps|
|Neymar: Emery will bring success to Arsenal|
|Jedvaj backs Croatia to deliver against England|
|Howell grabs first-round lead at Sea Island|
|Rooney backing Kane to break England record|
|Betts named American League MVP|
|Republic of Ireland must improve, says under-pressure O´Neill|
|Injured Sergio Ramos to leave Spain squad|
|Yelich named National League MVP|
|Low praises ´beautiful goals´ from Sane and Gnabry|
|Belgium boss Martinez pleased with patient Batshuayi|
|Wilson and Sancho pay tribute to England ´legend´ Rooney|
|Rooney gave England squad a lesson in humility - Southgate|
|This Week in U.S. Sports: LeBron passes Chamberlain, Williamson looking like he is next|
|We still have a chance - Luis Enrique not giving up hope after Spain defeat|
|Rockets ´parting ways´ with Anthony|
|Rooney became ´embarrassed´ at Manchester United|
|Federer: ´Easier´ to play when I´m up against it|
|Rooney convinced England are in safe hands with Southgate|
|Black Caps skipper Williamson confident over first Test availability|
|Federer cruises into last four of ATP Finals for 15th time|
|Republic of Ireland 0 Northern Ireland 0: Randolph saves light up bore draw|
|England 3 United States 0: Experimental side impresses on Rooney farewell|
|Croatia 3 Spain 2: Jedvaj keeps World Cup finalists in contention|
|Belgium 2 Iceland 0: Batshuayi rekindles Hazard flame with match-winning brace|
|Germany 3 Russia 0: Sane on target as Low´s men stroll|
|´Fancy taking a look at Brexit?´ - Southampton credit Austin with VAR breakthrough|
|Green: Altercation with Durant will make Warriors stronger|
|Juventus star Dybala dismisses Manchester United links|
|Strinic given all clear to return to AC Milan training|
|Papier wait over as scrum-half starts for Springboks|
|MLB commissioner Manfred gets five-year extension|
|South Africa international Du Preez joins brother at Sale|
|Pogba and Sterling support my football dream, says Bolt|
|Asensio wants to ´feel more important´ at Real Madrid|
|Former Roosters and Cowboys centre Linnett joins Hull KR|
|New team tournament ATP Cup wins Djokovic´s approval|
|Roma and Pallotta donate €150,000 to injured Liverpool fan Sean Cox|
|England captain Root reprimanded on frustrating day in Pallekele|
|Jokanovic proud of establishing Fulham´s ´footballing identity´|
|Huget to make first France appearance in a year|
|Mourinho and squad ´united´ despite ´mixed´ start, says Woodward|
|Petaia and Gordon to make Wallabies debuts in Padova|
|Barcelona star Arthur determined not to let Xavi praise go to his head|
|Youthful Netherlands have forged strong bond - Wijnaldum|
|Premier League confirms £5m package for departing chief Scudamore|
|Thiem blasts past Nishikori to keep semi-final hopes alive|
|He´s always got time for me – Gerrard loved learning from Liverpool boss Klopp|
|Kearney and Ringrose return for All Blacks clash|
|Molinari on course for Race to Dubai title, Smith and Otaegui lead|
|Premier League to implement VAR from 2019-20 season|
|FSF urges Premier League clubs to reject Scudamore ´golden handshake´ request|
|Rhinos pull off Merrin coup|
|Ribery apologises for reporter altercation|
|Ford to captain much-changed England, Cokanasiga starts|
|Crotty replaces injured Williams for Ireland showdown|