Barcelona thrashed Real Sociedad 5-1 with Lionel Messi scoring twice, striking first Sunday in the likely two-way fight for the Spanish league title after Real Madrid had drawn 1-1 against Valencia.
To sweeten the debut of Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova, David Villa played his first competitive minutes since breaking his leg last December and capped the win with a goal.
While Cristiano Ronaldo was lackluster when Madrid opened its title defense, Messi picked up right where he left off after scoring a league-record 50 goals last season.
With the score level at 1-1 early on, the three-time Ballon d'Or winner scored two quick goals to decide the match at the Camp Nou.
Also, Real Betis beat Athletic Bilbao 5-3.