Tito Vilanova’s reign at Barcelona began with a commanding 5-1 victory against Real Sociedad, while champions Real Madrid were held 1-1 at home by Valencia.
There might be a different manager on the touchline, but it is the same players on the pitch, still playing their traditional short passing game. And it took only four minutes for the Tito Vilanova era to begin when Carles Puyol emphatically headed in Xavi Hernández’s corner. Real Sociedad shocked the Barcelona fans when Gonzalo Castro rifled the ball past Víctor Valdés, but normal service was quickly resumed when Lionel Messi made it 2-1.
Five minutes later it was 3-1 when Messi scored again and Pedro Rodríguez then concluded a dominant first-half display with Barca’s fourth. The icing on the cake for Barcelona came six minutes from time whenDavid Villa marked his return from injury with his first goal since November 2011.
Real Madrid are already two pints behind their bitter rivals after being held at home by Valencia. Gonzalo Higuaín put Madrid one up after 10 minutes, José Mourinho’s side ere consequently stifled by the visitors, who were rewarded for their resilience courtesy of Jonas’ leveller.
Elsewhere, Real Betis threw away a three goal lead against Athletic Bilbao before late strikes from Álex Pozuelo and Jorge Molina gave them a stunning 5-3 victory.