Barcelona (AP) – World footballer Lionel Messi led FC Barcelona to victory as captain in the first test match in preparation for the new season after exchange theater.
With a 3-1 win over Gimnàstic Tarragona, Barca got off to a decent start to the era under new coach Ronald Koeman. The Dutchman has taken over from Quique Setien, of whom the Catalans said goodbye after the disastrous 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals of the Champions League. Although the season in Spain started this weekend with a goalless draw between SD Eibar and Celta Vigo, FC Barcelona will only start the new season on September 27 with a home game against Villarreal.
Previously, Messi, who was initially willing to change, had admitted to the transfer posse with his club. The six-time world footballer had to bow to the will of his club and now remains in Barcelona at least until the end of the season, according to his contract.
When Koeman made his debut on the Catalan national holiday, ex-Dortmund Ousmane Dembélé, who played his first game since November 2019 and took the lead at Barça after just five minutes, caught the eye. Ten minutes later, Frenchman Antoine Griezmann with the new number 7 on the jersey extended the lead with a converted penalty kick.
After the guests scored, Koeman brought a completely different team onto the field in the second half, including Philippe Coutinho, who had returned from Bayern on loan. The decision came from the visitors’ own goal after a Nelson Semedo cross.