Great friends already! Aww.
Now, wasn’t that exciting? Under Tata Martino’s watch, Barça have already won the first (very prestigious) trophy of the season – the Gamper trophy. Hurrah! Long may the 8-nil defeats and trophy haul continue.
For whatever reason, Barça fielded a rather strong starting XI: Valdes – Alves Pique Mascherano Alba – Xavi Busquets Iniesta – Pedro Messi Alexis. Because, you know, it’s important that we risk Xavi’s tendons for a pointless match. Or maybe he was contractually obliged to play, I dunno, but my previous point remains. Think of the tendons. Neymar watched his current and old team from the bench for most of the match.
As you may already know, Barça scored eight times. Instead of me recalling every single goal and boring you to death, I’ll leave you with a highlights video instead, so you can see for yourself…
Now, eight goals (alright, one was an own goal from Santos’ Leo – not to be confused with Leo Messi) in a friendly against a team who were far from prepared for the match isn’t usually much to shout about, but there are quite a few positives to take from this match. First of all, the team played really well. They were pressing and our wingers were actually challenging defenders. Second, Alexis looked very good and although he “only” scored once, he looked very confident on the pitch. I hope this is the start of his comeback season. Third, how about Dongou scoring his debut goal at the Camp Nou? Wonderful! He’s got a lot of potential and hopefully we’ll see him succeed at Barça. Fourth, Cesc did very well too – how about that brace? I know, I know, complimenting Cesc, how times have changed…but this is the Cesc that we want to see.
Messi won a star trophy for being man of the match. So just Messi being Messi, then.
It’s still too early to assess how Neymar is doing, but from what I saw, I was quite impressed. I think he’ll bulk up a bit (he’s so skinny! Even Cuenca wasn’t that skinny, right?) and hopefully he’ll stop being so, erm, delicate, but it looks like he knows what’s expected of him. Ultimately, he needs to take some of the pressure off Messi and I think we’ll see that happen.
Also, another small point worth making – look out for Bagnack. He’s only just turned 18 and is very inexperienced, but he may well be one to watch over the next few years. It would certainly be nice to have a centre back that’s come through the ranks but we’ll see how he progresses. I hope he’s given a chance. Both he and Dongou will be travelling to Asia for the rest of the preseason which is promising as it looks like the coach has already recognised their potential.
Overall, a very satisfying debut with Tata Martino at the helm. I’m looking forward to the start of the season (but how about a centre back first?) and think Martino will be a breath of fresh air to this team. Exciting times ahead, right?