Barcelona rolls in La Liga opener

Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Getty Images) 

European champions FC Barcelona opened defense of its Spanish Primera championship on Monday with a 3-0 win vs. Sporting Gijon. The convincing victory was made even more impressive by the fact that the following players did not play for Barca: Lionel Messi, Thierry Henry and Andres Iniesta.

Goals from Bojan Krkic, Seydou Keita and newly-acquired star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic provided the winning margin for the champions.

Here are the highlights:

What did you think of Barcelona's performance? Think Barcelona is the favorite to repeat in La Liga, or do you see Real Madrid winning the league? What did you think of ESPN's broadcast of the match?

Share your thoughts below.

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49 Responses to Barcelona rolls in La Liga opener

  1. Carlo says:

    Madrid have a lot to prove. Barca is the team to beat! Visca Barca!

  2. Biggy says:

    Barca looked like they were in cruise control most of the game, not really exerting themselves, just doing enough to win 3-0, which sounds funny but is true. Bojan looks dirty though, when Henry leaves (for MLS?) he will fill in nicely.

  3. dub says:

    so when are la liga games going to be on ESPN?

  4. GO USA says:

    that’s a funny picture. He looks like a giant

  5. Amit says:

    I’m not so sure about the Ibrahimovic move. He’s definitely not an upgrade so I’m wondering if it will work out.

  6. martin says:

    did ESPN broadcast the game?
    they should do a little more marketing about this……lots of people don’t know that also ESPN is broadcasting the premierleague

  7. Ibra was pretty poor: he offers no movement and seemed interested only in patches. Is he just unfit? He’s certainly not as dynamic as Eto’o….still trying to figure this transfer out (other than the fact Eto’o is supposed to be a pretty unpleasant character….but if that was grounds for dismissal, half the squads on the planet would be down to six players).

  8. japan says:

    yea it was on ESPN at 3:55 with Adrain Healy commentating

  9. Chamo says:

    Barcelona was on a roll, played a good game, and showed why Real will have big problems in El Classico this season. Should be exciting.

    Agree with you Amit, I think Inter got a GREAT deal from the Eto’o/Ibrahimovic swap. Eto’o may disrupt the locker room, but he has proven to be useful in Europe. Plus they got 40 million, seems ridiculous to me.

  10. CACuzcatlan says:

    dub, the answer to your question is now. This game was on ESPN.

  11. Chamo says:

    Agree with the Ibra comments. Inter got a great deal from Barca, I don’t see the Ibra appeal. For his few shining moments he offers, is it worth a more capable goal scorer plus 40 million? I don’t think so.

  12. Toto says:

    barca played well, real should still struggle after watching both teams play this week. Real has some real defensive issues that need addressing.

  13. NJ Guy No Longer Stuck in DC says:

    I’ve never understood the recent trend to leave the back post undefended for corners. A team can save a few goals a season by occupying both posts.

  14. EA says:

    Was it broadcast in HD?

  15. Northzax says:

    Ohh, sporting Gijon. Name a player. I watched the match and still can’t. La liga is so shallow it’s not even funny. The only two teams that come close to Real or Barca are Athletico Madrid and Villarreal and at time Sevilla. It’s only a matter of time before Real or Barca runs the table in that league.

  16. japan says:

    EA, yes

  17. japan says:

    David Villa started his career at Sporting Gijon

  18. Colin says:

    The HD was *gorgeous*!!!

  19. ThaDeuce says:

    3 headers off crosses, the Spanish way!

  20. Kevin says:

    Audio problems in the beginning (both Spanish and English tracks playing simultaneously) and all the graphics were in spanish, but the picture was pretty

  21. Kevin D. Johnson of Baton Rouge, LA says:

    I have to be honest, I fell asleep during this game. But only cause I didn’t sleep sunday night. Glad Zlatan got his 1st goal. Took the likes of Tevez, Berbatov, Crouch many, many matches to score their 1st for a big club.

  22. Kevin D. Johnson of Baton Rouge, LA says:

    Best striker in the world is Villa than Eto’o than Torres than Forlan than Ibrahimovic. He can score but not as much as Eto’o but he makes them look classy.

  23. MemRook says:

    I watched the ESPN broadcast and at first I thought I was losing my mind because I could have sworn I heard about 3 or 4 different commentators all jabbering at once. It them about 15 minutes into the game to fix the audio feeds. But after that, I loved the HD and I loved watching a league I am not too familiar with because it is never shown here… until now!

  24. BCC says:

    Wow, Barca beat Sporting Gijon. How impressive.

    Zlatan is not Eto’o, and I’ll say it again: this was a bad move for Barca.

  25. EA says:

    @ japan.

    Thanks. Set the reminder for next week.

    I’ll have to quit my job when FSC goes to HD.

  26. Dominghosa says:

    Great. I taped this game. Now I know the result. And Great! Barca won! ESPN did advertise this game the last few days, but not much, I suppose.
    Or maybe I just watch too much ESPN … nah.

  27. Dominghosa says:

    Actually, I watch more FSC and Gol TV now than I do ESPN. Soccer … has … taken … over … my … life.
    A bit.

  28. John says:

    Ibra definitely is not match fit yet – he was sucking wind in the opening minutes! Hes pressing and looking for how to fit in with this team (he didnt have much of a preseason with them), but I think he will slowly but surely come on and be a force as the season progresses. Bojan and Pedro (and later Jeffren) looked lively all game though. Add in Keirrison and Barca should be making plenty of plenty pretty goals for years to come.

  29. mcjones says:

    Watching TV5Monde, they’re showing Sochaux highlights and they sure do love Davies!

  30. Dave says:

    IBRA>>>>Etoo. Naysayers just wait-it’s the first match of the season and the man has scored. So many more to come-Ibra Messi Henry Xavi Iniesta is the ulimate attacking force in the game, barnone. He provides SOO much that Eto’o doesn’t, physicality, aerial prowess, and once he gets fit-pace, quickness and raw power.

    I love Barca so I love Eto’o, but as w/ Ronnie, his time has come-and the upgrade is significant.

  31. fenel says:

    La Liga games are going to be every sunday on ESPN2 @ 11:00 am starting on september 13.

  32. Chg says:

    Caption: The Shire FC realize they may have to import talent to become competitive in the Middle Earth Champions League.

  33. BCC says:

    Let’s discuss Barca after they have played Real, Atletico, Villarreal, Valencia, Sevilla, or even Espanyol. Silly to gush about them after beating up on a minnow.

    Real’s win against Depor was far more impressive — much better competition.

  34. Nick says:

    Anybody who thinks Ibra is automatically a downgrade is insane.

    He obviously doesn’t have any chemistry with his teammates yet, but he has the potential to be insane in La Liga. I’m sick of hearing people say he scored fewer goals than Eto’o. The goals he scored for Inter were spectacular solo efforts where he took the team on his shoulders. Eto’o had most of his goals served on a silver platter by others in the Barca squad.

    I agree with everyone else that Bojan is going to be one hell of a player. Glad to see Pep realizes he needs to split PT between Bojan and Henry.

  35. Leonardo says:

    I’ve never understood the recent trend to leave the back post undefended for corners. A team can save a few goals a season by occupying both posts.

    Posted by: NJ Guy No Longer Stuck in DC | August 31, 2009 at 08:25 PM

    i just saw a highlight to answer your ?. it was a corner where the ball was flicked to another player for a diving header GOAL. that diving player was clearly offside if it wasn’t for the defender at the post that kept him onside.

  36. Nick says:

    Since teams are still occupying the front post what you wrote is irrelevant.

  37. Rudy says:

    I don’t think you can say the jury is out on Zlatan yet considering he missed a considerable amount of preseason. He’ll be fine.

  38. d-bar says:

    Caption: The Shire FC realize they may have to import talent to become competitive in the Middle Earth Champions League.

    Posted by: Chg | September 01, 2009 at 01:36 AM

    Thanks, Chg. Now I can go to work with a smile on my face.

  39. Scott in Houston says:

    There are a lot of opinions being shared about Eto’o versus Ibrahimovic. I’ve shared mine before (that I think Barca got the short end of the deal, and that Inter Milan is a certainty to win Serie A), but I’m going to post what the incomparable Phil Ball had to say about it:

    “It is rather curious, nevertheless, that Pep Guardiola should have got rid of Eto’o in the final analysis because there was no ‘feeling’, to use his diplomatic phrase. What he meant was that he didn’t really like Eto’o, and that he thought he was a troublesome presence in the changing-room. Interesting then, that he swapped him for a chap whose reputation for histrionics and dodgy declarations is similarly well-developed. I’m not sure about the signing, and it’s unclear as yet whether the Swede will fit into the system, so well-oiled but to some extent proscribed on Eto’o's unselfish and constant movement. David Villa might have suited them better.”

  40. Hector says:

    Considering they were missing 2/3 of their creative hydra (Messi-Iniesta-Xavi) and just played 120 minutes in a mud bowl against a disciplined physical team (Shaktar) on Friday, this was impressive. These were the types of games they would have struggled mightily in last season. If they consistently score from set pieces, that’s yet another thing for defenses to worry about.

    To pass judgment on any player after four games with no preseason is insane. We’ll see what happens with Ibra but to say he WILL fail or has failed after so little time is stupid. He might but nothing is certain. Henry struggled his first season and had 25 goals and 6 assists last season. Barca’s system takes time to get used to if you come from outside.

  41. Tom says:

    Ibra isn’t match fit (coming off an injury lay-off) and he isn’t in synch with his teammates yet. He’s already looking better than Henry the first year. He’s going to make Barca even better, but it’s going to take time to hit top speed.

  42. Wayne says:

    Not hating but that goal from Ibra looks offsides and this team without messi and Henry will struggle to get goals. Ibra is not Eto in this sytem and Inter robbed Barca. they got 40 mill for a player that is not worth more than that and Eto a 40 mil striker for free. ask me that is some dumb stuff from Barca.

  43. gas huffer says:

    Meh.

    They’re no Red Bulls.

  44. 505anthony says:

    Om my gosh this was the WORST broadcast I’ve ever watched. For starters, everyone is correct in saying that ESPN did NOTHING to advertise that they were showing La Liga games. But the worst part of all was their broadcast–for some reason, aside from the two guys who I’m guesing we’re ESPN commentators, you could hear other people commentating in English and Spanish. WTF???!!! It was impossible to understand what they were syaing because there were at lerast two or three people talking at the same time. If this was an advertisment for what ESPN plans to do in the future, I’m scared.

    Also, right before the match, some host on their news show said, “And now here’s soccer!” and then turned to his co-host and said, “You know, I think I could score a goal.” What is that?!

  45. Ibra hasn’t been “match fit” in about 3 years. When was the last time anyone saw him put in a shift, a real shift?

  46. Tom says:

    He scored 29 goals last year, I’d say that’s a shift.

  47. Nick says:

    Most of you clearly don’t watch Serie A much. Every time you saw Inter last year (aside from the Man Utd games) you could be sure of being amazed by Ibra’s touches or goals on several occasions. He’s the only player who regularly does things that wow me.

    Check out this goal compilation:
    link to youtube.com

  48. arkjayback says:

    Highlights of American players including Davies, Cooper, and Altidore (formerly of Villareal) scoring for their new teams: link to youtube.com

    The music is from YouTube sensation, Ronald Jenkees.

  49. Ibra is like a modern basketball player….all for the highlight reel, nothing for the team.

    Will be interesting to see in Barca can change him. I know why they bought him: so Chelsea can’t park the bus like last time…and that they’ll have a plan B from their pass-to-death style.

    Don’t get me wrong: I love Barca and want them to do well…he just seems to be the kind of player and personality that is all about him and not the team.

    I feel the same about Berbatov….perhaps we Brits are just not cool enough to get that underneath their cloak of disinterest, these sophisticated continentals are really trying very hard indeed.