BARCELONA, Spain, August 18 – Barcelona manager Xavi Hernandez has called for ‘patience’ following his side’s draw with Rayo Vallecano in their first game of the season, but will know the side are set to challenge for the La Liga title this season after a series of high-level signings.
Barca struggled in front of goal in the disappointing stalemate at Camp Nou last weekend and face a tricky trip to Real Sociedad on Sunday.
Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha and Andreas Christensen all made their debuts from the start against Rayo and Franck Kessie made his first competitive appearance for the club as a substitute.
Barcelona, who have struggled financially for the past two years, are also waiting to sign French defender Jules Kounde after arriving from Sevilla.
But Xavi appealed to the supporters for calm as he seeks to lie down with the new players.
“I understand the disappointment, the expectations are really high,” Xavi said after the Rayo game.
“We will have to analyze the game, improve and continue to believe in the style of play.
“Rayo defended well. It was harder for us to create than usual.
“It’s a shame because we wanted to show the fans that we are on the right track. It’s disappointing, but we’re asking for patience and for people to believe in this team.”
Xavi helped turn things around for the Catalan giants last season, leading them to a second-place finish after taking over with their front four prospects doubtful.
Barca still finished 13 points behind champions Real Madrid, who started their title defense with a victory from behind in Almeria.
Carlo Ancelotti’s Champions League winners play their second game in a row, against Celta Vigo on Saturday.
Real followed newly-promoted Almeria for much of their first game of the campaign until Lucas Vazquez equalized, before David Alaba came off the bench to score the winner with his first touch from a free-kick.
The most impressive performance from one of the title contenders came from Atletico Madrid.
Alvaro Morata scored twice in a comfortable 3-0 win at Getafe as Diego Simeone’s side, who won the title in 2021, put down a first goal.
The Spanish striker, who has spent the last two seasons on loan at Juventus, has been linked with a potential move from the Estadio Metropolitano, with Manchester United reportedly interested.
“Everyone at the club hopes he continues,” Simeone said.
“He works very well, in an extraordinary way. I think all footballers need to have confidence to do important things.
“He came back with great humility and a desire to work.”
Host Atletico Villarreal, who also won 3-0 last weekend against Real Valladolid on Sunday.
Player to watch: Takefusa Kubo
Japan’s Kubo marked his debut for Real Sociedad with the only goal in their win at Cadiz last week. The 21-year-old was signed from Real Madrid last month after loan spells at Real Mallorca, Villarreal and Getafe. Kubo will hope to impress on Sunday against Barcelona, where he played as a young player.
7: Visits since Barcelona last lost to Real Sociedad, having gone eight games without a win at San Sebastian.
3: Sevilla newcomer Tanguy Nianzou could become the third player born in the 21st century to play in three of Europe’s top five leagues, after Moise Kean and Ethan Ampadu.
Espanyol – Rayo Vallecano (9 p.m.), Sevilla – Real Valladolid (11 p.m.)
Osasuna v Cadiz (6:30 p.m.), Real Mallorca v Real Betis (8:30 p.m.), Celta Vigo v Real Madrid (11 p.m.)
Athletic Bilbao v Valencia (6:30 p.m.), Atlético de Madrid v Villarreal (8:30 p.m.), Real Sociedad v Barcelona (11 p.m.)
Elche – Almeria (9 p.m.), Girona – Getafe (11 p.m.)