Three-time world player of the year Lionel Messi outlined his and Barcelona’s intention to win back the club’s Spanish and European crowns after Sunday’s season-opening 5-1 victory over Real Sociedad.
The Argentine forward, who scored 50 league goals last season and 73 overall for the Catalan side, netted twice in the opening 15 minutes of Barca’s first competitive match under new coach Tito Vilanova.
It gave Barca an early edge in the title race as defending champions Real Madrid drew 1-1 with Valencia ahead of Thursday’s first leg of the Spanish Super Cup — which will be the first “El Clasico” clash of the 2012-13 campaign.
Sunday’s match also saw Spain striker David Villa make a goalscoring comeback from a broken leg which had sidelined him since December and caused him to miss his country’s triumph at Euro 2012.
“We are a team that wants to keep on winning important titles for the club,” Messi told BarcaTV.
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Under previous coach Pep Guardiola, Barca won three league titles and the European Champions League on two occasions but last season the Catalans’ only success came in the Spanish Cup.
“I want to win it all, just like Tito,” the 25-year-old Messi said. “It will be difficult, but we’ll try. It’s important to start off winning.”
Barca will face Jose Mourinho’s Real at the Camp Nou on Thursday, with Messi and his teammates looking to win the Spanish season’s annual curtain-raiser for the fourth year in a row.
“Despite having a new manager, the team continues to play with the same philosophy,” said Messi. “We’re playing with the same style of play.
“It will be a complicated match because they are an experienced rival. The key to success is that all players actively participate so that we can score goals.”
After the win over Sociedad, Barca’s players spoke of their delight at seeing Spain’s all-time leading goalscorer Villa return to action as a late substitute.
“Villa’s return is the best piece of news of the game,” said Spain forward Pedro, who scored Barca’s fourth goal just before halftime. “He scored a goal and it’s an absolute joy to have him with us.”
Barca captain Carles Puyol opened the scoring with an early header on his return to competitive action after missing Euro 2012 due to knee surgery.
“I’m really happy that we won and that El Guaje (Villa) scored!” the veteran defender wrote on Twitter.
Meanwhile, midfielder Alex Song arrived in Barcelona on Monday to complete his switch from English Premier League team Arsenal. The Cameroon star was set to undergo a medical ahead of move worth a reported $23.5 million.
The 24-year-old becomes the second high-profile exit from the Emirates Stadium in the last week, following Robin van Persie’s transfer to Manchester United.
“He’s a footballer that gives us a bit of height. He’ll surprise us with his skill, he’s a great player,” said Vilanova, who added that Song would provide backup for holding midfielder Sergio Busquets and would also be used as a central defender.