But it was 18-year-old Munir El Haddadi who stole the show, scoring on his competitive debut for the club having been handed a place in the line-up alongside fellow La Masia graduate Rafinha. New signings Claudio Bravo, Jeremy Mathieu and Ivan Rakitic also started for Barca.
Javier Mascherano was shown red just seconds after Barca claimed the lead at the end of the first half, bringing down Garry Rodrigues as he raced through on goal.
But last season’s league runners-up looked just as strong with 10 men as they had with 11, putting three points on the board ahead of Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid’s season openers on Monday night.
11’ - OFFSIDE: Fantastic ball with the outside of the foot by Messi for Rafinha to run on to. The goalkeeper Suarez comes out and clatters the Barca player to the ground, but the flag has already been raised.
23’ - MUNIR CROSSBAR: Munir smashes a shot off the angle of post and crossbar! The 18-year-old performs a turn on a six-pence inside the box and tries to find the near post, but the woodwork denies him a debut goal.
32’ - WOODWORK: Crossbar! After a passing move which must have seen about 20 passes made, Iniesta lines up a shot from 20 yards with his left foot, but his effort smashes back off the crossbar with Suarez beaten!
42’ - OPENER: Messi opens Barcelona's account in typical Messi fashion! He turns the defender on the edge of the box, beating two more opponents before angling a shot into the bottom corner.
43’ - RED CARD: A long punt from Suarez sends Rodrigues through on goal for Elche. Mascherano knows he can't catch him so steps across him and makes contact to bring him down as the last man. Clear sending off.
47’ - MUNIR GOAL: The 18-year-old has scored on his debut Barca debut! Munir gets in behind the Elche defender and flicks the ball into the net with the outside of his foot.
58’ - CHANCE: Another slick passing move sees the ball threaded through to Bartra, of all people, but he can't squeeze his shot under the advancing body of Suarez in the Elche goal. Good goalkeeping.
63’ - MESSI GOAL: What a goal! Messi picks up a loose ball just inside the box, feigning a shot not once but twice and then angles a shot into the bottom corner.
Lionel Messi (Barcelone)
Barcelona have scored in their last 53 home league games and they have equalled their 3rd best run of all-time (1995-1998).
Barcelona have now won their opening game of the Liga season for the last five seasons.
Munir El Haddadi scored his first goal in La Liga with his first shot on target in the competition.
Lionel Messi has scored more goals than any other player in the Europe’s top five leagues in 2014, with 21 to his name.
Have Barca unearthed a new La Masia-forged diamond? When Enrique handed in his first competitive teamsheet as Barca boss one name stood one: Munir. The teenager impressed all through pre-season and scored a wonderful goal on his Liga debut, flicking into the bottom corner with the outside of his foot. Recent La Masia graduates have failed to live up to their billing at Barca, but Munir looks like the best since (dare I say it?) Messi.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Lionel Messi (Barcelona): Considering that he played the World Cup final less than two months ago, this was an extremely impressive performance from Messi. The number 10 was back to his best, jinking in and out of tackles and driving at the Elche defence. Plus, there was a cutting edge to his play, as there always is. The best player on the pitch by some distance.
A black cat walks on the pitch during the Spanish league football match FC Barcelona vs Elche CF at the Camp Nou …
Barcelona: Bravo 6, Alba 6, Mathieu 6, Mascherano 4, Alves 7, Iniesta 7, Busquets 5, Rakitic 7, Munir 8, Messi 9, Rafinha 5. Subs: Bartra 6, Pedro 5, Roberto 5.
Elche: Tyton 7, Albacer 6, Pelegrin 5, Lomban 5, Suarez 6, Angel 4, Rodrigues 8, Mosquera 5, Pasalic 4, Coro 6, Jonathas 5. Subs: Alvaro 5, Fajr 4, Adrian 4.
THE MATCH IN A TWEET
- Sports & Recreation
- Lionel Messi
- Munir El Haddadi
- Javier Mascherano