Barcelona cruised to an easy win over Royal Antwerp in their first Champions League game.
Xavi’s side led 3-0 after just 23 minutes, thanks to goals from Joao Felix and Robert Lewandowski, as well as an own goal from Jelle Bataille.
Gavi added a fourth before Felix scored his second after the break to give Barcelona the perfect start to the season.
In their previous two league seasons, the La Liga winners were ousted in the group stage.
Antwerp, who won the Belgian championship the previous season and qualified for the Champions League for the first time, were unable to match the home team’s passing and finishing.
Barcelona hasn’t won the Champions League since 2015, but their performance here was reminiscent of their glory days, albeit against fewer opponents.
The first goal brought back memories of Xavi roaming the Barcelona midfield with Marc van Bommel as his enforcer. Instead, they were in opposite dugouts for this game, with Van Bommel in charge of Antwerp and Xavi in charge of Barcelona.
Ilkay Gundogan will be Barcelona’s midfield creator in 2023. In 11 minutes, he exchanged passes with Lewandowski before sliding in Felix, who fired home from close range.
Eight minutes later, Frenkie de Jong’s fantastic raking ball to Felix in the box on the left increased the lead. The Portuguese attacker, on loan from Atletico Madrid, crossed for Lewandowski to volley in from six yards.
Antwerp’s Champions League debut turned into a nightmare when they conceded a third goal. Alejandro Balde’s cross deflected off right-back Bataille before spiralling agonizingly over keeper Jean Butez and in off the far post.
Barcelona was passing the ball around their midfield at will and apparently scoring whenever they wanted, with Gavi blasting into the roof of the net for his first Champions League goal on 54 minutes.
The electrifying Felix capped off the scoring, although his second was all about Raphinha’s left-footed cross.
The former Leeds player cut back on the right wing before throwing in an unstoppable cross that Felix headed home at the far post.