Barcelona took to the field one last time before the La Liga campaign gets underway last night. Luis Enrique got the opportunity to showcase his newly renovated Blaugrana side to the Camp Nou faithful, and they didn't disappoint.
The Catalans started the match with some new faces, including new goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, centre-back Jeremy Mathieu and Ivan Rakitic. Returning from loan was Rafinha who, also started the match.
There were several key things to take away from the match, as some of the players put in some spectacular displays which will have fans itching to get the season started.
Rakitic put in a magical performance as he looked keen to impress Luis Enrique. His energy is something Barca have been lacking in past seasons. The 26-year old Croatian looked like he had something to prove, working hard defensively and showing sensational vision to start attacks.
The number 4 also gave Barcelona something they've been lacking in recent seasons in his confidence to shoot from distance and trouble the opposing 'keeper.
Mathieu also began the match alongside Mascherano at centre-half. Although many were quick to criticise the price tag La Blaugrana paid for his services, Mathieu did well to prove them wrong.
The Frenchman showed his critics what he is capable of against Club Leon several times during the game from winning headers, making powerful challenges and even darting forward from time to time to help the attack. Mathieu put in a solid performance and will certainly give Enrique some headaches when the time comes to choose Barcelona's central defensive pairing.
Messi and Neymar
One of the most exciting things Culés have to look forward to is the renewal of one of the most electrifying partnerships in world football in Lionel Messi and Neymar. Both managed to get on the score sheet within the first quarter hour.
Neymar looks to have recovered well from his back injury, and managed to get a brace at the Camp Nou. The Brazilian starlet looked energetic and impressive on his return and made some impressive link-ups with Messi. The partnership looks to have strengthened and should only get even better. The South American's exchanged several key passes, and both managed to assist the other.
Luis Suarez finally made his debut for the club, coming in off the bench in the last quarter hour. The already electric atmosphere intensified as the Uruguayan entered the match. While there was little time to make much of an impact, it will still be exciting to see how Enrique fits him into the squad when his ban is over.
Tactically, Enrique seems to have been spot on in the training ground. The newly renovated Catalans looked as organized, disciplined and as concentrated as ever. The players moved in unison from side to side and played their positions well.
They pressed hard when the opposition had the ball and displayed some brilliant passing when in possession. The work rate of Barca was extremely high which is definitely an aspect of the game that needed to be changed.
Barcelona also ended the game with many of their promising youngsters on the pitch, including Sergi Samper and Munir el Haddadi who both managed to get on the score sheet - the latter capturing a brace. Barcelona's future looks as bright as ever, and several of these players may even get some playing time during the campaign.
When the league gets underway this weekend Barca will look to improve on what they have already built on, and perhaps tweak some minor things in their hope to regain their La Liga crown and perhaps renew their European dominance.
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