American Viewers Are Treated To Martin Braithwaite’s Barcelona On ABC

There’s life without Lionel Messi in Barcelona, but if it continues in the same vein as Sunday’s 4-2 win over Real Sociedad, it’s going to be a batshit crazy existence. 

It all began with not exactly fairy tale stuff because what a weird fairy tale this would be, but Barcelona achieved post-Messi liftoff when Gerard Piqué — who took a “substantial salary cut” on Saturday to help the club register Memphis Depay, Eric García and Rey Manaj for league play — got on the end of Depay’s free kick for Barça’s first goal of the season.

That goal arrived in the 19th minute after an opening period in which Messi’s absence loomed large. In the 10th minute, the Camp Nou — with around 28,000 socially-distanced fans in attendance — broke into “Messi” chants and cheers while out on the pitch Antoine Griezmann fittingly sent an effort wide.  

Barcelona’s second, arriving just before halftime, seemed like game over based on what Real Sociedad had contributed to the match. Martin Braithwaite headed home after being beautifully picked out by Frenkie de Jong.  

Executives must’ve imagined a very different product a couple weeks ago when deciding to put LaLiga on U.S. broadcast television for the first time ever (ABC), but the star of the show is now Braithwaite. In the 59th minute, the 30-year-old Danish forward got his second.

American Sergiño Dest lasted 71 minutes before making way for new signing Emerson.

Real Sociedad, playing without injured striker Alexander Isak, proved accommodating opponents for 80 minutes, but suddenly they came to life with a vengeance.  

20-year-old striker Julen Lobete pulled one back in the 82nd-minute, then Mikel Oyarzabal moved Real Sociedad to within one goal with a stunning free kick in the 85th.

But Braithwaite turned provider in the first minute of stoppage time to set up Sergi Roberto for Barcelona’s fourth.

Next up for Barça is a trip to the San Mamés next Sunday to play Athletic Club. Real Sociedad plays newly promoted Rayo Vallecano that same day.

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