Pep Guardiola’s side dropped just 15 points last season – their total of 99 points just enough to secure the title ahead of Real on 96. And day one of the new season has already seen Barcelona open up a two-point lead.
Debutant David Villa swiftly settled into the rhythm of the purring Catalan unit in a manner which the man he replaced, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, could not. The giant Swede has returned to Serie A this summer on a season-long loan, joining AC Milan after a difficult spell at the Camp Nou.
Within two minutes of their season kicking off, Lionel Messi broke free of the Santander defenders on the right wing and deftly chipped the ball over goalkeeper Rodriguez Martinez Tono. It was the type of sublime finish that Spanish supporters have become accustomed to since the emergence of the wondrous Argentine.
AndrÃƒÂ©s Iniesta added a second in the 33rd minute. A rushed clearance by Tono found the Spain midfielder, who promptly chipped the out-of-position goalkeeper with unerring accuracy. The three points were sealed when new signing Villa emphatically headed Dani Alves’ cross home.
Ironic that the goal should come from head of Villa. Last season, the former Valencia striker was considered ahead of Ibrahimovic, but Guardiola opted for the physical presence of the Swede in the belief he would provide the vital ingredient in his much discussed ‘Plan B’ for Barcelona.
“This team was already great and it has won everything, so what I wanted to do was settle in as soon as possible at the beginning,” said goalscorer Villa.
Meanwhile, on the holiday island of Mallorca, the visiting Real Madrid failed to overcome Michael Laudrup’s aggressive and well-organised side at the Iberostar Stadium. JosÃƒÂ© Mourinho made the surprising choice to start 19-year-old Sergio Canales ahead new signings Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedira.
Canales showed glimpses of his potential while winger ÃƒÂngel di MarÃƒÂa struck an anonymous figure and was duly substituted in the second half. Gonzalo HiguaÃƒÂn was particularly wasteful spurning two one-on-one opportunities against the excellent Mallorca goalkeeper Dudu Aouate.
“No one can say we did not create chances,” Mourinho said after the disappointing draw. “We spent the whole time in their half and created three or four good opportunities. There is a big difference between the finished product and a team in construction, like we are.”
This weekend’s La Liga Results in full:
RCD Mallorca 0-0 Real Madrid
Racing Santander 0-3 FC Barcelona
Osasuna 0-0 UD AlmerÃƒÂa
Deportivo La CoruÃƒÂ±a 0-0 Real Zaragoza
Real Sociedad 1-0 Villarreal CF
Levante UD 1-4 Sevilla FC
MÃƒÂ¡laga CF 1-3 Valencia CF
HÃƒÂ©rcules CF 0-1 Athletic Bilbao
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