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.
|Kuzma leads USA past Team World|
|Thiem into semis in Buenos Aires, Isner cruises in New York|
|This can´t happen at Liverpool – Kovac warns Bayern over defensive errors|
|Thomas, Scott lead Genesis Open|
|Koulibaly pleased with transfer interest, but happy at Napoli|
|Allegri: Juventus must score in Madrid|
|Kuchar addresses criticism, apologises for paying fill-in caddie $5k|
|Life is for warriors – Neymar defiant as injury recovery continues|
|Neuer: Bayern Munich must cut out defensive ´madness´|
|Kovac: Bayern had Liverpool on the mind against Augsburg|
|Wawrinka and Nishikori to meet in Rotterdam semi-finals|
|Gloucester down leaders Exeter, Wasps beat Bristol|
|McCloskey marks landmark with try in Ulster win, Munster run riot|
|Allegri hails Dybala after Juventus star ends goal drought|
|Kovac fearful over fresh Coman ankle injury|
|Mahrez incredible in training - Guardiola takes blame for star´s exile|
|Depay can be among world´s best – Rafael|
|Wood ´felt like a superhero´ in devastating match-winning spell|
|QPR 0 Watford 1: Capoue strike secures quarter-final berth|
|Kaepernick v the NFL: How we got here|
|Juventus 3 Frosinone 0: Ronaldo rounds off routine romp|
|Augsburg 2 Bayern Munich 3: Classy Coman shines in comeback win|
|Ndombele draws Pogba comparisons from Lyon coach Genesio|
|Coady and Doherty pen new deals with Wolves|
|Kaepernick and Reid reach settlement in NFL collusion case|
|Neuer back in Bayern team after thumb injury|
|Giggs, Scholes and Beckham met Ferguson´s standards because of Harrison – ´Class of ´92´ graduate Ca|
|Mertens upsets Kerber to set up Halep Doha decider|
|Valverde: Barcelona scared? We´re top of LaLiga!|
|North and South Korea want to co-host 2032 Olympics|
|Zaha appeal against ban dismissed|
|Chisora to work with Bellew´s former coach Coldwell|
|Valverde still unsure on Umtiti return date ahead of Lyon tie|
|Hudson-Odoi getting enough Chelsea chances, insists Zola|
|Sexton back in full Ireland training|
|Chelsea, Malmo facing UEFA charges|
|Magnificent Halep storms back to reach Qatar Open final|
|No nerves for Ferrari new boy Leclerc|
|Solskjaer´s Manchester United impact has been remarkable - Zola|
|Valverde delighted by extra responsibility of new Barcelona contract|
|Martial and Lingard injuries open the door to Gomes and Chong – Solskjaer|
|Semenya backed by South African government in IAAF challenge|
|Proteas collapse gives Sri Lanka hope in Durban|
|Wales star Halfpenny misses Scarlets match|
|Guardiola: Wigan a warning to Manchester City for Newport trip|
|Martial, Lingard out for up to three weeks|
|Milan will need helmets against Atalanta - Gattuso|
|Suso ´deserves Milan renewal´ amid Spurs & Arsenal links|
|Tuchel avoids touchline ban from FFF|
|Christian crushes Sixers to set up all-Melbourne final|
|Newport star Amond hopes glasses are raised after Otamendi reunion|
|Aaron Smith try snatches win over Chiefs for 14-man Highlanders|
|A-League Review: Melbourne City drop points again as Newcastle Jets close on top six|
|Pieters pegged back by late bogey in Perth|
|Stability, a thriving Messi and success despite poor recruitment – Why Barca are keeping Valverde|
|Jenkins unperturbed by Jones´ Wales dig|
|Pogba wasn´t happy – Rafael applauds Solskjaer´s impact on Man United players|
|Turn the stump mics up! - Moeen wants sledging televised|
|Valverde signs one-year extension at Barcelona|
|Klopp almost became Bayern coach – Hoeness|
|Barkley to Davis: Don´t ruin your reputation as one of the nicest guys in the world|
|Westbrook extends triple-double streak in Thunder´s loss to Pelicans|
|Llorente ´very satisfied´ at Tottenham|
|Dodgers´ Bellinger: Even when I´m not good, I´m still really good|
|Harvick, Logano win Can-Am Duels|
|Pelicans star Davis suffers shoulder injury|
|Thiem stays perfect in Buenos Aires, Ferrer exits|
|Spieth tied for lead at rain-hit Genesis Open|
|´Special´ Son is one of Premier League´s best, says Vertonghen|
|Team LeBron v Team Giannis by the numbers|