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Joan Gamper Trophy: FC Barcelona 0 - 1 UC Sampdoria: Match Review

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The deciding moment of the match.
The deciding moment of the match.

Barcelona wasn't able to lift the Joan Gamper Trophy for the fourth consecutive time as the silverware didn't remain in Barcelona for just the third time since 1994. The early goal by Sampdoria's Roberto Soriano was all the Italians needed to win the 2012 edition of the Gamper Trophy.

Before the game started all first team players were presented, including Eric Abidal who received a heart-warming standing ovation. New signings, Jordi Alba and Alex Song (who was wearing No. 25) were presented first while the captains were presented at the very end. Puyol welcomed the new first team members and said the team wants to win titles this season.

Then the microphone made it's way to Tito Vilanova who thanked Pep Guardiola and Seydou Keita for four fantastic years and wished them all the best. He also assured us, the fans, that the team will work very hard throughout the season. Tito finished the speech with "Visca el Barça i Visca Catalunya".

As expected Tito fielded a team consisting of mainly reserve players and youngsters from the B team. The only real surprise was the inclusion of David Villa who featured in yesterday's La Liga opener but also got a start today.

Barça line-up: José Manuel Pinto; Martín Montoya, Marc Bartra, Andreu Fontas, Carles Planas; Jonathan Dos Santos, Sergi Roberto, Javier Espinosa; Gerard Deulofeu, David Villa, Ibrahim Afellay

Just over a minute into the game Sampdoria took the surprising lead when Roberto Soriano scored with a diving header after a brilliant cross by Pedro Obiang. Neither the defense, especially Fontas, nor the keeper reacted well to that cross but the youngsters (+ some "old" guys) weren't rattled as they immediately went on the offensive.

Barça slowly started to get closer and closer to Sampdoria's goal but they just couldn't get the final touch to send the ball into the back of the net. Deulofeu, who was very dangerous from the right wing, supplied a great cross that looked destined for Afellay but the Dutchman couldn't make the decisive redirect.

Sampdoria seemed happy to sit back and allow Barcelona to pass around them but when the Italians got the ball they were very dangerous on the counter and Barça had to be alert. At the 25 minute mark Sampdoria appeared to have doubled the lead but the defense was well positioned and caught Marcelo Estigarribia offside.

Just seconds later Villa sent a good cross from the left side but it was just out of reach of Sergi Roberto who was left with just enough space in front of the keeper.

Overall Sampdoria defended extremely well and didn't allow any cheap chances. Meanwhile Barça's defense wasn't as surefooted, though it also didn't get as much help from the midfield as the Italians did. Pinto also had to be on his toes as he had to make a good save to deny Maxi López from scoring.

A minute before halftime Barcelona caught Sampdoria very high and went on a 3 on 2 counterattack but Deulofeu was unable to round the keeper after he was played through by Afellay. The score therefore remained 1-0 in favor of the Italians at halftime.

The second half started with no changes in the Barcelona team.

Afellay and Deulofeu both made good runs down the right side of the penalty box but on both occasions Sampdoria coped well with the danger. Tito made his first substitution 10 minutes after the restart when he replaced the unimpressive but not terribly bad Fontas with Sergi Gomez.

Sampdoria continued to defend very well in the second half despite many changes in their lineup. They also didn't lose a step in attack as the constantly threatened. Nicola Pozzi even hit the post after he was sent through all alone toward Pinto.

After playing a lovely one-two with Afellay and having a penalty appeal (correctly) turned down Villa was replaced by Barca B newcomer Joan Angel Roman. Patric, Cristian Lobato and Oier Olazabal also took their place on the pitch when they replaced Sergi Roberto, Espinosa and Pinto.

Roman brought a lot of energy to the team and had some good ideas on how to penetrate Sampdoria's defensive line but all his attempts were snuffed out.

Jean Marie Dongou, Ilie Sanchez and Alejandro Grimaldo also came on the pitch in the late stages of the game as they replaced Afellay, Dos Santos and Planas but none of the substitutions Tito made in the game were able to help Barcelona secure their first title with Tito at the helm.