The game was Barcelona’s first La Liga game in over 17 years without their former talisman, Messi, in the squad – either on the pitch or on the bench.
Lionel Messi has been at FC Barcelona in most parts of his football career and practically carried the Spanish club on his shoulder for over 17 years. He helped the club to win 35 major titles, a feat that is unique to him alone.
When his contract with Barcelona expired on June 30, 2021, the Spanish club tried all they could to offer the 34-year-old Argentine football icon a new contract but their effort could not be productive enough due to the financial limitations of the club.
Hence, earlier in August, Barcelona confirmed that Messi would no longer stay at the club. From that point, it was clear that Argentina international has to find a new home.
After a series of speculations, French Ligue 1 side, Paris Saint Germain succeeded in convincing him to join the club which he did for free. PSG offered him a two-year deal which will fetch him £25 million per year.
On Saturday, August 14, after he was unveiled to the fans of PSG at the Parc Des Princes, Messi watched on the stands as PSG defeated Strasbourg 4-2.
A day after, his former club which he cherished so much was in action without him anywhere close to the stadium. It was both the old and new legs at the club that did the business for Barcelona during the La Liga game.
In the game, Gerard Pique who accepted to take a pay cut to enable the club’s new signing Memphis Depay to be registered, scored the opener via a header from Depay’s free-kick in the 19th minute.
Towards the end of the first half, Martin Braithwaite made it two for Barcelona. When the second half of the game commenced, Braithwaite made it three in the 59th minute to become the first player from Denmark to score two goals in a match for Barcelona.
Real Sociedad tried to fight back in the 82nd and 85th minutes, thanks to goals from Julen Lobete and Mikel Oyarzabal to force the game into a 3-2 scoreline. However, Ronald Koeman’s men would not allow the game to end that way. Sergi Roberto scored the last goal of the match in the additional one minute.
The 4-2 win placed FC Barcelona on the 3rd spot behind first placed Real Madrid, and second-placed Sevilla. The number of goals conceded is the difference among the current top five teams on the league table.
Barcelona’s second La Liga game without Lionel Messi will come up on Saturday, August 21 against Athletic Club at 21:00. While Messi might make his first appearance for PSG on Friday, August 20 against Brest at 8:00 PM.