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Joan Gamper Trophy: FC Barcelona 8-0 Santos: Match Review

A recap of Barcelona's emphatic 8-0 win over Santos, as goals from Cesc Fabregas (2), Lionel Messi, Alexis Sanchez, Pedro, Adriano and Jean-Marie Dongou ensured that the Blaugrana reclaimed the Joan Gamper Trophy

David Ramos

FC Barcelona reclaimed the Joan Gamper Trophy with an emphatic 8-0 rout of Santos at the Camp Nou on Friday night, as goals from Cesc Fabregas (2), Lionel Messi, Alexis Sanchez, Pedro, Adriano and Jean-Marie Dongou secured Barça’s 36th victory in the competition’s 48-year history.






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Gerardo Martino opted for a strong line-up, restoring many of Barcelona’s internationals to the starting XI – although somewhat puzzlingly, there was no room in the Barça attack for Brazilian superstar and former Santos forward Neymar. Victor Valdés started in goal; Dani Alves, Gerard Piqué, Javier Mascherano and Jordi Alba teamed up in defense with Sergio Busquets, Xavi Hernández and Andrés Iniesta paired together in midfield. However, instead Pedro started in place of Neymar, while Lionel Messi and Alexis Sánchez kept their place in the front-line. Would this strong Barcelona team be able to regain the Joan Gamper Trophy, or would Santos shock the Camp Nou crowd with a surprise victory?

Wearing a special version of their new home jersey to raise awareness – and cold, hard cash – for the Itinerarium Foundation, Barcelona got the game started at the Camp Nou, immediately settling into their usual rhythm. It may have been the first appearance of pre-season for many of these players, but it was like they’d never been gone; the ease with which the Blaugrana worked the ball around was magnificent, and it wasn’t long before Barça began to create a few chances.

First to test Santos goalkeeper Aranha was Lionel Messi, who climbed above the Santos defense to register the game’s first shot on target – a header after a nice cross from Dani Alves, who has changed to number 22 to honour his former colleague, Eric Abidal – and Messi’s effort was soon followed up by a shot from Pedro. While the build-up was terrific, Pedro’s finish wasn’t so great, as he dragged his shot wide of the target, albeit from a difficult angle. Still, it was an encouraging sign for the hosts who were looking to make their early spell of dominance count.

Rather than "if", it was almost a question of "when" the first goal would come for Barcelona – and who would get it. Without Neymar in the starting line-up, the smart money was on Lionel Messi to open the scoring – and sure enough, with eight minutes on the clock, Messi made it 1-0. Capitalising on a defensive mistake, Messi kept his composure to round the challenge of Aranha and calmly pass the ball into the back of the net, characterising what had been a straight-forward start for the Blaugrana.

And it didn’t take long for Barcelona to double their advantage, as yet another Santos error led to a Blaugrana goal on 11 minutes. Dani Alves, who had been performing well on the right-flank, provided a cross, and veteran left-back Leo attempted to clear the danger, only to inadvertently direct the ball over Aranha and into his own goal. Santos simply couldn’t deal with Barcelona’s quality, and it was shaping up to be a long night for the Peixe.

Whether confidence was low, or whether Santos were just playing badly, their luck didn’t change as a poor free-kick from Durval led to a third goal with just 21 minutes played at the Camp Nou. Launching the ball forward and into the Barça half, Durval must have thought he had cleared the danger, only for Barcelona to bring the ball right back up field through Lionel Messi who selflessly passed up an opportunity to score his second of the night, instead playing it across the penalty area to his offensive partner, Alexis Sánchez. Faced with a simple chance, Sánchez kept his cool, took a touch to steady himself and slotted the ball into the back of the net.

It was all too easy for the Blaugrana, and despite the scoreline, there was no sign of a fight-back from Santos. In fact, quite the opposite; Santos seemed content to sit back and go into damage limitation mode – or maybe there were incapable of a comeback thanks to Barcelona’s asphyxiating high-line of pressure? Whatever the case, Barça were able to attack and attack without repercussion – even the defenders were getting involved as Alexis Sánchez smartly played a pass into space to find the overlapping run of Jordi Alba, and the Catalan full-back teed the ball up beautifully for Pedro, who walked it in to give Barcelona their fourth goal of the evening.

Thankfully, there was a little respite for the shell-shocked Santos defense – in the remainder of the half Barça "only" created a couple of half-chances, meaning that the Manita (if we were going to get one), would have to wait until the second-half. Maybe Neymar could provide the finishing touches?

Indeed, Neymar was brought on by Martino at the half, along with seven other first-team players – Jose Manuel Pinto, Marc Bartra, Martin Montoya, Adriano Correia, Alex Song, Sergi Roberto and Cesc Fàbregas were all given 45 minutes to shine, replacing Pedro, Victor Valdés, Gerard Piqué, Dani Alves, Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets, Xavi and Andrés Iniesta respectively.

I’m sure Santos were hoping that the near full-scale changes would help them regain a foothold in this game, but Barça started the second-half in a similar vein. With a fresh line-up, their pressing intensified and they soon completed the Manita. There was a touch of fortune in the build-up to the goal, as Alexis Sánchez’ lazy pass was fortuitously deflected back to his feet by Cicero, which allowed the Chilean a second chance – and this time he made no mistake. Finding Cesc Fàbregas with another good pass, Sánchez claimed his first assist of the night thanks to Fàbregas’ exceptional finish.

Mercifully, Martino took this as an opportunity to rest Lionel Messi, as the Argentine departed with roughly half-an-hour left to play with talented striker-Marie Dongou taking his place in the Barça attack. With Messi off the field, surely Santos would be able to stem the flow of goals, right?

Well, wrong, as Neymar was still on the field and as Santos well know, he’s more than capable of scoring a goal or two himself. And as a result, Neymar often draws the attention of multiple defenders – a situation he can really use to his advantage, particularly in a Blaugrana jersey. Now when he draws a couple of defenders away from their assignments, he’s freeing up space for Lionel Messi, or in this case, Cesc Fàbregas and the Brazilian is talented enough to pick out the pass too. Fàbregas made no mistake with his finish, and just like that, Neymar had registered his first assist in Barça colours.

Six goals to the good, and still Barcelona showed no signs of relenting. The pressure was just as fierce, and well, the quality was obviously still there. All over the pitch in fact, as Adriano got in on the action, scoring Barcelona’s seventh in some style – it really was a golazo!

Adriano received the ball short from the corner and had just one thing on his mind – scoring. And credit to the Brazilian, as that’s exactly what he did, bending a long-range effort into the top corner of the Santos net. Vladimir had no chance – which ultimately summed up this game really. From the first minute, Santos simply didn’t have a chance.

Dongou added an eighth with less than ten minutes to play; Fàbregas turned provider with a good low cross from the byline, and left with the simplest of chances, Dongou couldn’t miss. Neymar nearly completed the rout with a ninth, only to see his effort crash off the bar – it would have been a fairy-tale ending, although an 8-0 scoreline isn’t something to be sniffed at!

Next up, Barcelona travel to Asia, where they will first take on a Thailand XI on Wednesday. Until then, Visca el Barça!

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