Madrid, Aug 19 (IANS) Two days into the new Primera Liga season and the most obvious is that rumours of Barca’s demise have been overstated.
That was made clear by a blistering first half display against Levante which saw the reigning champions go in 6-0 up at half time and eventually secure a record opening day win 7-0 Sunday, reports Xinhua.
The fact this was done on the back of a chaotic pre-season and with Neymar and Andres Iniesta on the subs’ bench should worry everyone in La Liga, although the failure to sign a central defender will be a problem as the season progresses.
For the moment however, Barca fans will be delighted at the way the side have adapted to the high-pressing game demanded by Tata Martino and the new hunger they showed on the pitch after a downbeat end to last season.
In the Santiago Bernabeu, Carlo Ancelotti made it clear that he is very much his own man with the decision to leave Iker Casillas on the bench and play Diego Lopez in goal.
Following Casillas’ much publicized spat with Jose Mourinho last season most would have expected Casillas to have started in the 2-1 win against Betis, but it was Lopez who got the nod.
Quite where this leaves Casillas at the start of a World Cup season remains to be seen and with Casillas’ influence in the press and dressing room, Ancelotti has shown himself to be a brave man.
As for Madrid’s performance, it was a letdown after a promising pre-season, but with the new coach trying to introduce a more passing style of football, he may need more time that Martino, who has given a few ‘tweaks’ to the Barca mechanism rather than attempt a full scale overhaul. Meanwhile Isco looks as if he could be the signing of the summer.
As for Barca and Madrid’s respective rivals: Levante look as if they are in for a long season after a difficult summer with internal issues, while Betis showed the same courage and flair as last year despite a revolving door transfer policy.
Radamel Falcao has left Atletico Madrid but they still have Diego Costa and their 3-1 win in Sevilla was a win to quieten the doubters that the loss of their star striker would be a handicap.
The arrival of David Villa and Leo Baptistao has actually given Diego Simeone more options and Costa looks to be revelling in his new found responsibility.
Sevilla looked good in patches as well, but may also need time to integrate their new signings.