Tito off to a flier in Hamburg

Tito Vilanova got his reign as Barcelona boss off to a flying start with a 2-1 victory over Hamburg in the Intech Arena.

First-half goals from Dani Alves and youngster Gerard Deulofeu proved enough for Barca’s youngsters to see off the Germans, who were celebrating the club’s 125th anniversary, and despite numerous changes at the break Vilanova’s men held on to record a comfortable win.

Despite Lionel Messi’s late withdrawal through injury it did not take the Catalans long to open their account, Brazilian international Dani Alves thumping an effort into the roof of Rene Adler’s net after just five minutes following some poor defending from the home side.

However, the hosts were back on level terms midway through the half when Tolgay Arslan reacted quickly to stab home after Marcus Berg had rattled the crossbar.

Nonetheless, La Blaugrana regained the lead seven minutes before the break when Deulofeu took advantage of Ibrahim Afellay’s parried shot to apply the finish.

Vilanova made nine changes at half time and the remainder of the game turned into something of a non-event, with Barca retaining possession in their customary manner despite no recognised first-

team members being on the pitch after Oier Olazabal replaced Jose Manuel Pinto on 70 minutes.

Even so, Vilanova was satisfied with his team’s performance and considered it a good work-out after just one week of pre-season training.

“We did well in general, controlled possession of the ball and played most of the game in our opponent’s half of the pitch,” he told assembled journalists after the match.

The only negative aspect of the evening was that defender Marc Muniesa suffered a knee injury and may have damaged cruciate ligaments.

“It is terrible news and what we wished to avoid in these friendly fixtures,” said Vilanova.

“It was a shame because he was playing very well and looked in good form, so we will now need to try and encourage him.

“He has been through a similar situation and that will help him, but it’s always difficult when a player is seriously injured.”

Tags Hamburg Tito Vilanova