Travelling to the small Basque city of Eibar is always a spectacle for Barcelona. Seeing Barça’s stars taking to the field at the hostile atmosphere of the Ipurua is an interesting sight, and the team of superstars are always expected to roll the little team over, but Eibar’s quick growth into La Liga battlers has made sure that they are anything but pushovers.
This week English media outlet Sky Sports have claimed that La Masia graduate Adama Traoré is on the radar of Antonio Conte’s Premier League leading Chelsea side. This is just another possible twist in the career of the winger who seemed to be on the fringes of the Barcelona first team when Tata Martino was coach back in the 13/14 season.
Off the back of the disappointing Clásico, today’s match up against an Osasuna team who have won just one of their last 14 home league games was Barcelona’s chance to end their three match drawing streak in La Liga and begin the catch up on Real Madrid, who were six points ahead of Barça at the start of the weekend.
Past visits to play Real Sociedad at the Anoeta have proved to be peculiar, with Barça throwing everything at La Real and lacking a bit of luck in the final third. This draw feels like a lot more than just a ‘curse’, that Barcelona were genuinely outplayed by a team on great form.
Luis Enrique’s men travelled to Manchester knowing that they were facing a team that are very much a work in progress under Pep Guardiola’s management, but definitely knew that they are a very dangerous side. With multiple injuries within the squad, to think that City could get something from Wednesday’s game was in no way unthinkable.
If a football match lasted 38 minutes, Barcelona would have flown back to El Prat airport with a simple win and feeling very proud of their performance, but unfortunately a football match lasts 90 minutes, and Manchester City showed how important momentum and confidence can be, and how a game can change within small margins of error.
Games against Valencia at the Mestalla always seem to cause trouble for Luis Enrique’s Barcelona. Since Lucho took charge of the Blaugrana in the 2014/15 season, Barcelona have scraped two wins and drawn once at the 55,000 seater stadium, and every time, despite the frequent change of managers, Los Che have always gone into the games in an aggressive nature – not to mention the fans, who now have a record of two bottles thrown in the three Mestalla meetings since 14/15.
Saturday’s afternoon kick off was no different to previous meetings at Valencia’s ground. There was reckless tackling, strange refereeing, deafening noise from the stands, and overall a complicated game of football.
After Barça’s loss to Alavés on the weekend, it’s for sure that many British pundits saw Tuesday’s game as a massive chance for Celtic to come away from the Camp Nou with something. But taking all of the rotations into account, not to mention the substandard performance of many players against the Liga newcomers, it was clear to Barça fans that Saturday’s game was a mere blip from players and coach, and that a full strength team could easily brush aside Celtic. And they did.
Summer for Barça fans as been a bit of a mixed affair. The club made many brilliant signings but some players fell on the international stage. In the Euros, the blaugrana players of Spain crashed out at the hands of Italy, and Ivan Rakitić’s Croatia going out to eventual winners Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo. Even more upsetting, in the Copa America, Lionel Messi dazzled throughout, only to lose out in another international competition on penalties. After Leo was brought to tears at the MetLife Stadium, some FCB fans feared the worst for his future. Other fans recalled his incredible performances after the World Cup disappointment in 2014. Messi has made his intentions clear for this season after game week one.
On Thursday the 21st of July, Barcelona and Hamburg reached an agreement for the sale of 20-year-old Alen Halilović for 5 million euros. Barcelona have the option to buy the Croatian back over the next two seasons for 10 million euros as well as the first option to purchase the player for as long as he is at the German club, but is this the end of Halilović’s Barça dream?
For most top clubs around the world, preseason is a bit of a pain, with lots of travelling and a lot of hard work to prepare for the upcoming season. The Barça squad, which will be unfamiliar due to the Copa América and European Championships, will have a training camp at the St George’s Park training complex in Burton-upon-Trent in England between the 25th and 30th of July, before playing their first preseason fixture in Dublin, Ireland against Celtic on the night of the 30th, then on to Stockholm, Sweden to play Premier League champions Leicester City on the 3rd of August and finally they come back to the United Kingdom to play Liverpool at Wembley in London, England.
Over the years, Barcelona have preferred to field very rotated sides in these friendlies, with lots of youngsters joining the trip to gain quality experience with the first team squad and coaches, and showing what they can do with the possibility of more first team action in their minds. But which youngsters could take the trip to England for the training camp?