Lionel Messi scored Barcelona's 6000th goal in LaLiga as the champions sealed a 3-0 win over Deportivo Alaves on Saturday.
The Argentina star swept in a clever free-kick midway through the second half before Philippe Coutinho netted a fine second, with Messi doubling his tally late on to secure all three points for Ernesto Valverde's side.
Alaves did little to trouble Barca's goal even after going behind, but it was far from a convincing display from the hosts, who handed league debuts to Arthur and Arturo Vidal in the second half.
Barca looked laboured despite all their possession in the first half, with creativity at a premium in Coutinho's absence, although captain Messi hit the bar with a free-kick and Ousmane Dembele fired straight at Fernando Pacheco when through one-on-one.
Coutinho was introduced at half-time for full-back Nelson Semedo, but there was little to get the 52,356 fans inside Camp Nou out of their seats until the 64th minute, when Messi sent a free-kick under the wall and into the net.
The Argentina star struck the woodwork again despite nearly slipping over in the build-up, before Luis Suarez – making his 200th appearance for the club – was denied by Pacheco when capitalising on a defensive slip.
Barca secured an opening-day win for the 10th time in succession eight minutes from time, though, when Coutinho rifled home from just inside the area, before Messi brought down Suarez's pass and slotted home with the last kick.
What does it mean: Valverde's men still in pre-season mode
This was the 10th season in a row in which Barca have won their first LaLiga match, and Messi's free-kick was certainly a fine way to mark the occasion, but there is much work to be done.
The champions were far too ponderous in possession throughout, with midfielders reluctant to run from deep and Dembele too often surrendering the ball when trying to stretch Alaves' rigid 4-5-1 set-up.
It rather felt like a friendly match, with more than 40,000 seats going unused in the stands and Barca never getting out of third gear, while the visitors made no change to their approach even after going behind.
They will improve in the coming weeks, but this was not a display to leave Real Madrid or Atletico Madrid feeling unduly concerned.
Pat on the back: Messi still Barca's main man
It was fitting that Barca's 6000th goal in the top flight was scored by the man who got their 5000th back in 2009.
Messi, on his first league outing as club captain and without Andres Iniesta at the club, clipped the bar in the first half before trying a different tactic to put his side ahead in the second. Some sublime close control and a deft finish added late gloss to the scoreline.
With Suarez and Dembele off the boil and Coutinho only introduced off the bench, it fell on Messi to become the main creator and goal threat for his side, and only the woodwork denied him a hat-trick.
6.4% - Barcelona have scored 6000 goals in La Liga history, 6.4% of them scored by Lionel Messi (384 goals). Icon. pic.twitter.com/H7DWsEECeg— OptaJose (@OptaJose) August 18, 2018
Boot up the backside: Dembele frustrates again
Dembele looked ready for an explosive start to the season when he blasted in the winner in the Supercopa de Espana, but this was another forgettable outing at Camp Nou for the forward.
He squandered two decent first-half chances with poor finishes after failing to pick out Messi in a two-on-one situation, and his runs in the final third too often ended in possession being gifted to Alaves.
Key Opta Facts
15 - Lionel Messi is the first player in La Liga to score in 15 consecutive seasons in the 21st century (385 goals). Critical. pic.twitter.com/JYMXnU2anZ— OptaJose (@OptaJose) August 18, 2018
- Barcelona are the second team in LaLiga history to reach 6000 goals in the competition (6002 goals), after Real Madrid (6041 goals).
- Lionel Messi is the first player to score in 15 consecutive LaLiga seasons in the 21st century (385 goals).
- Barcelona have scored 6002 goals in LaLiga history, 6.4 per cent of them scored by Lionel Messi (385 goals).
- Luis Suarez has equalled Dani Alves as the player with the most assists to Lionel Messi in LaLiga (26 apiece).
Next up for Barca is a trip to Real Valladolid next Saturday, the promoted side having held Girona to a 0-0 draw in the first match back in LaLiga.
Alaves also play in a week's time, with Real Betis the visitors to Mendizorrotza looking to bounce back from a humbling 3-0 home loss to Levante.
|Best player in the NBA? Leonard focused on Raptors´ success|
|Manchester United 2 Bayern Munich 1 (1998-99) - Where are they 20 years on?|
|Manchester United 1998-99: The best wins of Ferguson´s treble from Turin to Barcelona|
|Yankees sweep double-header, remain atop AL East|
|Tuchel´s PSG extension - Opta numbers help to explain new deal|
|Herring beats Ito to claim WBO super-featherweight title|
|Three takeaways from Raptors´ historic win over Bucks|
|Raptors defeat Bucks to earn first ever Finals berth|
|MLS Review: Rooney salvages draw for DC, Union beaten|
|Liverpool want to emulate Man City dominance – Henderson|
|Marcelino revels in ´happiest day´ after Copa del Rey success|
|Kovac praises Bayern turnaround after completing double|
|Red Sox´s Devers robbed of home run by Minute Maid Park girder|
|Warriors´ Iguodala considering retirement|
|Na leads at Colonial, Spieth two shots back|
|Valverde vows to fight on at Barcelona|
|I can be one of the best in the world - Zverev defiant after return to winning ways|
|Finland to face Canada in final after downing Russia|
|Valverde not to blame for Barcelona´s Copa defeat, says president Bartomeu|
|Rummenigge reaffirms Bayern Munich´s Kovac stance after DFB-Pokal triumph|
|Barcelona season bittersweet after Copa loss, says Pique|
|Ribery proud after making victorious Bayern Munich farewell|
|Centurion Smith unfazed by England boos|
|Warrington battle past Wigan as Giants humiliate Hull|
|Barcelona 1 Valencia 2: Valverde pressure increases as Catalans denied historic Copa win|
|Leinster retain Pro14 title to spoil Hogg farewell|
|F1 Raceweek: Hamilton hopes rain will not scupper likely Monaco glory|
|Bayern Munich 3 RB Leipzig 0: Lewandowski´s brace helps secure domestic double|
|Crusaders march on as Sharks enjoy derby delight|
|Champions League failure would be ´huge disappointment´ for Atalanta - Gasperini|
|Lennon offered full-time Celtic job after treble-treble|
|Paris Saint-Germain must pull together in one direction to improve - Tuchel|
|Toulon end Castres´ reign, La Rochelle and Montpellier seal play-off spots|
|Coutinho, Semedo & Arthur start Copa del Rey final after injury problems|
|Yastremska shrugs off Garcia to claim maiden clay title|
|Gasly handed Monaco grid penalty|
|Without him, I would have one title – Hamilton dedicates Monaco pole to Lauda|
|Neymar, Mbappe and how to help Kimpembe: Tuchel´s Paris Saint-Germain to-do list|
|Outgoing Ribery and Robben on Bayern bench as Neuer starts DFB-Pokal final|
|Carapaz takes Maglia Rosa after climbing to stage 14 win|
|Injured Keita named in Guinea´s provisional AFCON squad|
|Wiesberger leads at Made in Denmark after Schwab struggles|
|Edouard brace fires Celtic to historic treble-treble|
|Paire picks off Auger Aliassime in Lyon final|
|Leclerc demands Ferrari answers and prays for rain after Monaco farce|
|Putintseva claims first WTA title at Nuremberg Cup|
|Gattuso: Champions League not imperative for Milan job prospects|
|Mancini confident of taking Italy into a new era|
|Experience will serve Inter well in ´cup final´ - Spalletti|
|Hamilton beats out Bottas as Leclerc suffers Monaco nightmare|
|Reynolds hurt but Rabbitohs still too strong for Wests Tigers|
|Ronaldo rested before Allegri heads for the beach|
|Nagelsmann can establish Leipzig at the top - Rangnick|
|Europa League win would cap ´dream´ Chelsea season, says Emerson|
|Rebels have cause to celebrate, Waratahs hurt by Jaguares|
|Tuchel extends PSG contract to 2021|
|Marquinhos ´didn´t understand´ Mbappe´s PSG exit hint|
|Van Dijk out to improve on ´nuts´ Barca clash in Champions League final|
|Wood worry for England ahead of World Cup|
|Kompany takes Manchester City academy coach to Anderlecht|
|Terry will manage Chelsea before Lampard does, says Wise|
|Keary blow for Blues ahead of Origin opener in Brisbane|
|French Open 2019: Is clay king Nadal finally vulnerable at Roland Garros?|
|French Open 2019: Unburdened Federer has a free hit on Roland Garros return|
|Yelich first to 20 homers, Diamondbacks score 18 runs|
|Bucks won´t overuse Giannis in pursuit of NBA Finals – Budenholzer|
|MLS Review: LAFC roll on with Impact win, Galaxy end skid|
|Tabarez confident Suarez will be fit for Copa America|
|Ranieri to pay fine if De Rossi wears special armband in Roma farewell|
|Blue Jays team-mates Biggio and Guerrero make MLB history|