MADRID — It didn’t take long for Barcelona to overcome the disappointment of a rare home loss in the Spanish league. All it had to do was reunite its trio of superstars.
With Lionel Messi, Luiz Suarez, and Neymar making their first start together of the season, Barcelona trounced Celtic 7-0 in its Champions League group opener on Tuesday, quickly putting to rest any talk of a letdown after losing to recently promoted Alaves 2-1 last weekend.
Messi scored a hat trick, Suarez netted twice, and Neymar scored once and set up four goals at Camp Nou, giving Barcelona its biggest Champions League win.
“We all know the quality of the trident,” Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic said. “They always turn up when we need them.”
The three players hadn’t begun a match together since last season.
Neymar arrived late because of the Olympics, and coach Luis Enrique had been rotating his starters following the summer break and a round of World Cup qualifiers.
“We finally got a chance to start together and we were able to help the team earn the three points,” Suarez said. “We have scored a lot of goals in the past, but the important thing is that these goals lead to titles.”
Since the three players joined forces in the 2014-15 season, they have scored 50 of the club’s 56 goals in the Champions League. The shared 131 goals last season, with Suarez leading the way with 59.
“Messi, Neymar and Suarez create a lot of damage when they are together, and we have to take advantage of that,” Barcelona midfielder Andre Gomes said.
Messi and Suarez came off the bench in the second half against Alaves, joining Neymar on the field, but the trio was not able to prevent the loss.
“We had an opportunity to move forward after that loss and we were able to do it,” said Andres Iniesta, who came in as a substitute and scored for Barcelona on Tuesday.
Luis Enrique added: “We practically didn’t commit any mistakes. The players had fun, and that allowed the Barca supporters to have fun.”
Barcelona won its second straight league title last season, when it also won the Copa del Rey, the European Super Cup and the Club World Cup. It was eliminated by Atletico Madrid in the quarterfinals of the Champions league.
Next for Barcelona is a Spanish league match at Leganes, another recently promoted club, on Saturday.