Antoine Griezmann sprinkled some stardust over the Nou Camp and sent a message to the Barcelona board – you don’t need to sign Neymar.
The €120 million signing scored twice on his home league debut and after the second goal, which put Barcelona ahead against Real Betis, ran to the corner, took a handful of glitter confetti from a stagehand/steward and theatrically threw it into the air as supporters behind the goal cheered almost as loudly as they had for the goal.
Barcelona won the game 5-2 with Jordi Alba and 21-year-old Carles Perez and Arturo Vidal also scoring – all this with Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi not fit and smiling in the stands: this is not a team that looks in need of another forward.
Things had not started well and Griezmann, playing as a false nine, was struggling. Barcelona were on top but Fekir broke on the quarter-hour to fire Sergio Canales’ pass past Marc Andre ter Stegen and put Betis ahead.
Barcelona were creating chances but Rafinha had coach Ernesto Valverde cursing on the touchline after missing two clear-cut chances.
But four minutes before the break Sergio Roberto put Griezmann in with a diagonal pass and he slid in to volley it past Dani Martin in the Betis goal.
He had promised a special celebration but instead there was an old fashion run back to the halfway line with no more than a few handshakes – something a little more 21st century came in the second half when he scored his second goal.
The curler from the edge of the area having just just nudged the ball out of his feet with his first touch was brilliant.
The magic-man glitter show afterwards will divide opinion a little more. Griezmann is a big basketball fan and the trick was straight from Lebron James’ stylebook – glitter replacing the chalk used by James.
Barcelona were in top gear now. The impressive youngster Perez scored a goal as good as Griezmann’s to make it 3-1 and Jordi Alba added a fourth from Sergi Busquets’ pass on the hour.
Arturo Vidal came on and with 13 minutes left he added a fifth from a Griezmann assist.
There was still time for Loren to score the best goal of the night stunning ter Stegen from distance. But Betis had been well beaten by a team who could argue their entire forward line was out injured – Ousmane Dembele also watched from the stands.
Ansui Fati came on and confidently drilled a shot just past Martin’s far post. That would have been the sixth of the night and from a 16-year-old debutant who had become the second youngest player to play for Barcelona in the club’s history.
The night still belonged to Griezmann. Making it at the Camp Nou when you have been top of the bill at another club is tough. It’s tough when Messi is alongside you and it’s tough when Messi is out and you have to replace him.
This was a big night for Griezmann. He had never scored in 13 games at the Camp Nou playing for his other teams. At the first time of asking in La Liga he had done it for Barcelona, twice, and with a celebration that, for better or worse, will not be forgotten.