On his 34th birthday, Robert Lewandowski scored twice to lead Barcelona to a 4-1 win over Real Sociedad.
Lewandowski got the Catalans on the board early as he put them ahead just 49 seconds into the game with a nice assist from Alejandro Balde, who was starting over Jordi Alba.
But the joy, and lead, would last only five minutes as La Real equalized through Aleksandr Isak thanks to a poor giveaway from Frenkie de Jong, who was given a start due to the absence of Sergio Busquets.
After a fast pace opening 20 minutes, both sides seemed to slow down the tempo. Xavi deployed a 3-4-3 system with Ronald Araujo as the right-back and Ferran Torres making up the front three with Lewandowski and Ousmane Dembele.
Aside from the Lewandowski goal, Barcelona struggled to create chances in the first half with La Real looking like the better team.
Not much changed in the beginning of the second half with Xavi not making any substitutions.
In the 64th minute, Xavi made his first two changes, bringing on Ansu Fati and Raphinha for Torres and Balde, respectively.
It wouldn’t take long for Fati to make an impact as two minutes later, Fati flicked the ball to Dembele who moved to the left. The Frenchman lined up his shot and crossed it past the La Real goalkeeper.
Two minutes after Dembele gave Barcelona the lead, Lewandowksi got his brace and extended the Catalan lead. Once again, Fati was involved in the build up as well as De Jong.
It would be Ansu Fati who would put the bow on the proceedings as he scored Barcelona’s fourth and final goal in the 79th minute courtesy of a nice backheel flick from Lewandowski which left the 19-year-old one-on-one against the keeper.
Following a disappointing first half from Barcelona, Xavi corrected things in the second with the introductions of Fati and Raphinha. So much so that both have made their case to be starters in their next match.
But some of the concerns from the draw against Rayo Vallecano were once again notable. Real Sociedad constantly attacked the flank defended by Araujo as he was getting little cover from Dembele.
It’s an area on the pitch where the club will no doubt try to reinforce in the last days of the transfer market.
In the end, Barcelona won a game they need to win after a poor season debut. They’ll look to do the same on Sunday when they take on Valladolid at home. But before that, they have a friendly match against Manchester City on Wednesday. Expect a number of players who didn’t play against Real Sociedad to see some playing time against City.