After the match with Hajduk on Saturday, Barcelona travel to Germany to participate in the Audi Cup, of which Bayern Munich are the hosts. All games are to be played at the breath-taking Allianz Arena, and the tournament will take place over two days, Tuesday and Wednesday.
The participants? Barca and Bayern of course, and joining them, AC Milan and Tuesday’s opponents, Internacional.
Not to be confused with Internazionale, they hail from Brazil, and have been one of the more successful Brazilian clubs of late, winning the Copa Libertadores title in 2010, but as of now, have no manager, and one would expect that no change will be made in that respect by tomorrow’s match.
However, they will still provide a stern test for Guardiola’s men, holding an advantage in match-practice (the Campeonato is already 12 games in), and sheer squad numbers. Notable names from the Internacional squad include recent Barcelona targets, Oscar (who will be absent on International duty) and Leandro Damiao, Andres D’Alessandro, Renan (formerly of Valenica) and Manchester City flop, Jo.
Despite the short space of three days since the Hajduk draw, Guardiola is expected to have Pedro and Pique back in contention, and given the performance of Fontas, or the fringe attackers, is excellent news. However, Xavi continues to train alone – as does Puyol – and the South American contingent are still on their holidays, therefore Barcelona will not have their full-strength line-up available.
It may only be a pre-season tournament, but here’s where Bojan would have come in handy, as from what I saw of Soriano on Saturday, he may be a titan in the Segunda, but the step-up could prove one step too far for the 25 year old, leaving Barcelona horribly short of true attackers, but with a plentiful supply of wingers.
My prediction is that Barcelona start out with a strong attacking line-up, marshalled by the B-team defence, and switching round at half-time, hopefully with a lead to protect. Internacional will park the bus and try to counter, but lacking their playmaker Oscar, and the form Villa appears to be in, it will be the Blaugrana who advance to Wednesday’s showpiece final.
Score Prediction: 2-0, with goals from Villa and Afellay.
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