They’ve only just played the first game of the season at their home ground, but there are murmurs emerging from the Barcelona dressing room that the players are far from happy with the condition of the Camp Nou pitch.
Despite getting three points in an eventually convincing 3-0 win over Alaves in their La Liga opener on home soil on Saturday, it wasn’t an easy match for Barca who had to wait until the 64th minute for a breakthrough.
And it’s come to light that the team and coaching staff are particularly unhappy about the state of the Camp Nou pitch.
Many areas have bald spots where the sand is visible, and given the nature of Barcelona’s precision passing game, having an untidy playing surface is simply not acceptable.
A discussion in the dressing room claims the pitch hasn’t been in this poor a state for years, and the most surprising thing is that it’s happened on the first day of league season after the pitch had not been in use for almost three months during the summer.
The Camp Nou pitch is accustomed to having two games a week played on it. And while the heat in Barcelona of late has been a factor, it shouldn’t really be an excuse.
There are another 15 days before the next home game against Huesca and there should be time before then for the club’s groundstaff to work on improving the turf.
After that, there’ll be no games played on it for 20 days due to the international break.
Left-back Alba paid tribute to Messi post-match after the Blaugrana got their La Liga title defence off to a fine start, overcoming Alaves 3-0 at the Camp Nou on Saturday night.
And Alba claims no player will ever replicate the 31-year-old’s feats.
“Leo makes the difference all the time,” said Alba.
“He hits perfection every year. We’ll never see another like him.”
Messi has firmly established his status as one of the game’s all-time greats, having won five Ballon d’Or awards.
Ernesto Valverde’s side found it tough to break down the visitors on Saturday, although two moments of Messi magic helped seal a 3-0 win.
Messi put a free-kick under the wall in the 64th minute to give Barca the advantage, before slotting home in injury time after Philippe Coutinho had extended the lead.
Alba was not alone in hailing Messi, who’s opener was Barcelona’s 6,000th La Liga goal.
Sergio Busquets said: “It was quite hard, until Messi appeared with his work of art.”
Sergi Roberto quipped: “Leo is still up to his tricks.”
They’re a club that are used to breaking records, and Barcelona broke another one in their opening fixture of the 2018/19 La Liga season on Saturday night – assembling their most expensive substitute’s bench ever.
Never before in the history of the club had they had so many millions sitting next to their coach on the bench for the game against Alaves.
Ernesto Valverde stuck with a starting line-up that had largely contributed to lifting the La Liga crown last term, with all of his summer additions sat together on the Camp Nou bench.
Among them was the most expensive signing in the club’s history, Philippe Coutinho, who was called upon to make the difference in the opening clash of the season, with the hosts eventually sauntering to a 3-0 win, but only after Lionel Messi had opened the scoring in the 64th minute.
Coutinho emerged to seal the points seven minutes from time, with Barca icon Messi wrapping up the win in stoppage time.
In total, the sum of money paid for the seven subs totalled €294 million.
Dutch back-up goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen was the cheapest at €13m, while Coutinho, obviously, was the most expensive at a whopping €155m.
Brazilian winger Malcom (€41m), French defender Clement Lenglet (€35m), another Brazilian Arthur (€31m) and Chile veteran Arturo Vidal (€19m) made up the star-studded subs’ bench.
And that was just for six players too, with the seventh, Rafinha, a product of the club’s youth system who didn’t cost a thing.