RObert Lewandowski lobbed the ball into the goal with playful ease over the storming Stole Dimitrievski and turned away with a loud jubilation, but the assistant on the touchline had looked closely: Lewandowski was offside, the goal from the former Bayern striker didn’t count – and in the end it was the score in the staid 0-0 of FC Barcelona at the start of the season against outsider Rayo Vallecano an impressive series of the world footballer.
The Pole Lewandowski had always scored in the first game of the season since 2015, this time the 33-year-old only managed the offside goal for his new club in the 13th minute, shortly before the end he missed a good opportunity (82nd). Nevertheless, Barcelona coach Xavi was “satisfied” with the Pole, “because he works for the team,” emphasized the former professional.
Otherwise, he addressed the problems of the team: “We need more effectiveness and are all a bit disappointed with this result. It’s a matter of time before it makes a difference. We wanted to show people that we’re on the right track, but it’s the beginning,” said Xavi. “We ask for patience and that people believe in the team.” It was a disappointment. The team felt the high expectations.
In addition to Lewandowski, the Brazilian Raphinha, Franck Kessie and Andreas Christensen were new to Barca in the matchday squad after a long fuss about eligibility to play. The only newcomer missing from the squad was French international Jules Kounde. Still, things didn’t go well at Barca.
Ultimately, it was even thanks to Marc-Andre ter Stegen that Barca didn’t concede a defeat right at the start. “It’s important that Ter Stegen saves us points, he did that, I believe in him,” Xavi said of the German international goalkeeper: “I understand the disappointment, we had a lot of expectations and wanted to start with a better result.”
The financially ailing club only received permission to play for its new players around Lewandowski shortly before the game. The preparation was so sensitively disrupted, Barcelona mostly controlled what was happening on the pitch, but was too harmless offensively. The fact that Sergio Busquets (90 + 3) had to leave the field shortly before the end with yellow-red fitted into the picture.
At the same time, Barcelona is trying to generate more income with transfers. Scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is a candidate, the former Dortmunder has probably played in the focus of Chelsea. Frenkie de Jong had publicly pressured the Catalans for the Dutchman to leave or at least agree to a pay cut. Both were still used against Vallecano.
After Lewandowski’s goalless competitive debut, Spanish media commented critically on the team’s performance. “The truth of football is on the pitch and Barça still lack the game and time to live up to the expectations raised by the announcement of a spectacular debut in the league,” wrote the newspaper El País on Sunday. According to “Mundo Deportivo” the 0-0 draw against Rayo was a “cold shower”. The opponent’s performance showed that the league would be “no picnic” for Barcelona. “The euphoria of the change of summer is over.”
After all, Lewandowski also received praise from the specialist newspaper “AS”: “He didn’t score, but he made it more than clear that he was a spectacular signing,” wrote the newspaper about the performance of the Polish world footballer. “The goal will come. It’s just a matter of time.” After eight years at Bayern, Lewandowski switched to the Catalans in July for a fee of 45 million euros. His contract in Munich would have run for another year.
Ancelotti ends after Real
The Italian star coach Carlo Ancelotti meanwhile sees the Champions League winners Real Madrid as the last stop in his career. “This stage at Real will be the end of my career. After that I’ll call it quits,” said the former Bayern coach in an interview with the Roman daily Il Messaggero. After all, there was nothing higher for him to achieve, said the 63-year-old: “Real is the maximum in football. It makes sense to break up after this experience.”
He is driven by passion, “even if a few things have changed over time. Until a few years ago, I had technical and tactical priorities. Now I am fascinated by human relationships, by knowing people, by dialogue with the new generations”. After a great playing career, he won the Champions League with AC Milan and Real, and led Chelsea, Bayern Munich and Paris St. Germain to national championship honours. His contract in Madrid is valid until mid-2024.
Meanwhile, the star ensemble from Paris Saint-Germain achieved the second clear win of the season in the French Ligue 1. The lead in the table was thus underpinned. Led by double goalscorer Neymar, the capital club defeated Montpellier HSC 5-2 (2-0) on Saturday evening. In addition to the Brazilian (43rd minute/hand penalty/51st), French world champion Kylian Mbappé (69th) and former Munich player Renato Sanches (87th) scored for the team with Lionel Messi.
Paris took the lead through an own goal by Falaye Sacko (39′). Mbappé also missed a hand penalty (23rd). PSG had already started the season with a furious 5-0 win at Clermont Foot. The German national players Julian Draxler and Thilo Kehrer were not in the squad again, they can leave the club if they are offered the right option.