If Tito Vilanova had any worries that he would struggle to follow in the footsteps of Pep Guardiola, the most successful manager in Barcelona’s long and distinguished history, then he was soon reassured. Barcelona took on Real Sociedad at the Camp Nou last night and their performance was a statement of intent.
It was an almost perfect night, the only thing that was missing was the third goal of Messi’s hat-trick. Barcelona were 3-1 up afetr 15 minutes and never looked in danger, even when Dani Alves switched off leaving acres of space for Chori Castro to level the scores at 1-1.
Barca meant business from the start. The home crowd were bouncing from the start, everybody happy to see the captain Carlos Puyol in the starting line up. Puyol was not quite fully fit and had to be substituted midway through the game, but he had opened the scoring with a header after just three minutes and set his team on the road to victory.
Messi took just two minutes to regain the lead for Barca, and he scored his second to make it 3-1 just four minutes later. Pedro capped a brilliant performance with Barca’s fourth just before the end of the first half after an excellent run and cross by Tello. All of the newer Barcelona players were brilliant, showing that Barcelona do not really need to spend much on players.
The crowning moment of the night came at the end. David Villa returned to the Barcelona team after a frustrating eight months on the sidelines due to injury. The rapturous reception he got made his hair stand on end apparently. That was nothing to the noise generated after 84 minutes when Iniesta set up Villa for Barca’s fifth goal. It was an emotional moment as Villa ripped off his top to reveal a t-shirt with a photo of his family on it and the words Impossible sin Vosotros, which means impossible without you.
Vilanova had a determined look on his face throughout the game and his team look like they are ready and able to reclaim the title from Jose Mourinho and Real Madrid, who could only manage a draw aginst Valencia.