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Joan Gamper Trophy: FC Barcelona 6-0 Club Leon: Match Review

A blow-by-blow recap of FC Barcelona's commanding Joan Gamper Trophy win over Club Leon, as goals from Neymar (2), Munir (2), Lionel Messi and Sandro wrapped up a landslide victory for Luis Enrique's new-look team

David Ramos

FC Barcelona cruised to a sensational victory in tonight’s edition of the Joan Gamper Trophy, obliterating Mexican champions Club Leon 6-0 in front of a large crowd at Camp Nou. While there was no room in the starting line-up for marquee summer signing, Luis Suarez, there were preseason debuts for Neymar and Lionel Messi, who grabbed three goals between them in the opening half. Then, following a plethora of changes in the second period – including the introduction of Suarez – Barça added two more courtesy of preseason top scorer and prodigal talent, Munir el Haddadi before Sandro wrapped up the scoring with the final kick of the game.

Bring on Elche, bring on Atletico Madrid, bring on La Liga and the new season.


Would they? Wouldn’t they? Following the traditional squad presentation, all eyes were on the FC Barcelona teamsheet as Culés anxiously waited for news that Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez would start together. And it seemed like a foregone conclusion. Pedro was ruled out just minutes before the teamsheet was released with stomach flu; Lionel Messi was starting...Neymar was starting...Rafinha was...starting?

Never mind, we’ll get the chance to see that trio together at some stage; now our focus was on the game and securing a victory. Dani Alves, Javier Mascherano and Jeremy Mathieu were all restored to the starting line-up with Gerard Piqué dropping to the bench. Ivan Rakitić was starting in midfield alongside Andrés Iniesta and as previously mentioned, Rafinha was the final piece in the attacking puzzle. Would this line-up be able to defeat the visiting Mexican champions Club Leon and deliver the Joan Gamper Trophy?

Barcelona started the match well, Neymar showed no signs of his recent back injury, getting immediately involved with the action with a mazy dribble past a couple of Club Leon midfielders before feeding the ball out wide to his compatriot Dani Alves. With a chance to deliver a cross, Dani predictably over-hit his effort and watched his pass fly out of play for a goal kick. New season, new kit, same old Dani.

And same old Barcelona.

The possession, the movement, the individual brilliance; it was all on display in the opening stages as Lionel Messi threaded a pass through the eye of a needle to find Neymar who again attacked the Leon defense, teasing his marker with a body feint before delivering a low cross. While his pass was deflected, it only looped up and into the path of Lionel Messi who got the party started with a strong header past the Leon goalkeeper. Less than 180 seconds into the Joan Gamper Trophy, and one might argue the game was already over: FC Barcelona were back, and they were ahead.

Mere moments later and the Blaugrana were at it again. Driving forward with tempo, with intent and with a certain attitude, an arrogance – a swagger. Ivan Rakitić picked up possession roughly 30 yards from goal and tried his luck. Even with such an audacious effort, Rakitić still went close. Barça were hungry for goals. Leon looked shell-shocked.

With good reason too; they simply had no answer to the Barça attack. The movement of the front three was too fluid, too hard to track – sure, they tried, but what difference did it make? They were up against superstars, the very best – their efforts weren’t enough. All they could do was opt for a more risky approach: step up and hope to catch the stars off-guard.

Remember, Lionel Messi and Neymar were making their preseason debuts. While they had more than enough quality to tear the Leon defense apart, they were still a step off the pace, by their own incredibly high standards. So when Lionel Messi found himself in space at the far post ready to tuck away his second goal of the evening, he was denied by the assistant referee’s flag.

Buoyed by their continued dominance, Barça pressed forward again. It was relentless; Rakitić again tried his luck from long-range and tested the goalkeeper with a vicious effort. That added dynamic to the Blaugrana attack could prove vital at times this season, the ability to switch it up and go for goal rather than constantly look for a pass to Messi – it’s something we’ve been sorely lacking.

But just as we add new dimensions to our game, it’s imperative that we retain our identity and continue to do what we do best. Andrés Iniesta clearly got that memo, threading a simply jaw-dropping pass through the Leon defense to find the run of Neymar who finished with aplomb, keeping his composure to chip the onrushing keeper. From start to finish, it was a thing of beauty. A real work of art.

The good times threatened to continue coming as well; Barça were creating chance after chance and as time wore on, the only thing that needed some fine-tuning was our finishing. Messi wasn’t quite firing on all cylinders in that regard, but probably the "worst" of the bunch was Rafinha who squandered a couple of golden chances to extend the lead. Admittedly, for the first Rafinha was offside, but to watch his shot roll agonizingly wide was tough – purely because it should have rippled the back of the net.

Later on in the half, Rafinha was presented with an opportunity to lift the ball over the keeper, just as Neymar did earlier in the game, but his effort was blocked when again, perhaps it should have found a different fate. But that’s super critical; his all-round play had been excellent and Barça were looking nothing short of sensational.

However, Leon were growing into the game. Even if the chances weren’t drying up, the goals were for Barça and Leon grew in confidence. They even mustered the courage to venture forward a couple of times, testing Claudio Bravo on one occasion from long range. These moments though, were few and far between, stuck in amidst wave after wave of Barcelona attack.

And when Leon did commit bodies forward, they rarely tested the Barcelona backline as Jeremy Mathieu in particular looked in imperious form, venturing up and down the pitch – even from his central defensive position.

That’s perhaps the greatest example of how dominant Barcelona were in the opening half, at least up until the third goal. With minutes left until the interval, Barça ventured forward once more – and after another fortuitous deflection, Neymar was one-on-one with the keeper, lifting the ball away from his grasp with his out-stretched boot before back-heeling the ball into the back of the net. It defied belief, yet was still so quintessentially "Neymar". The Brazilian had been a revelation in the opening half, and with two goals to show for his troubles, would Lucho give him the chance at a hat-trick in the second?



Enrique flexed his managerial muscles at the break, taking the first-half Man of the Match off, along with Javier Mascherano, to bring on Munir el Haddadi and Gerard Piqué. Evidently, Lucho was keen to let the Camp Nou crowd see as much of his squad as possible, and maybe he couldn’t pass up on the opportunity to assess Munir again with Luis Suarez’ ban ruling the Uruguayan out of the start of the season.

Indeed, that wasn’t the only change Enrique made at the break – Barça also switched to a back three of sorts: Piqué, Mathieu and Busquets, with Jordi Alba and Dani Alves pushing forward into midfield a la vintage Guardiola-era Barcelona. It was a joy to watch, particularly with that reinvented midfield. Ivan Rakitić was a delight, creating the fourth goal of the evening with a superb pass to cut the Leon defense to ribbons and find Dani Alves, who selflessly squared the ball to Munir to duly convert the gift.

With that four-goal cushion and with the game approaching the hour mark, Barça and Enrique took the time to make a few more changes; Jeremy Mathieu made way for Marc Bartra, Dani Alves was withdrawn for Martin Montoya, Andrés Iniesta, Ivan Rakitić and Sergio Busquets were replaced by Xavi, Sergi Roberto and Sergi Samper while Lionel Messi took his place on the bench to give Sandro a chance to lead the frontline. Even Jordi Masip was brought off the bench for Claudio Bravo, but still no sign of Luis Suarez.

Not yet.

As one might expect, the tempo of the game suffered in the immediate aftermath of all the changes; there were a few offsides called and perhaps the final ball was lacking in comparison to the rest of the game, but there were still chances. A loose ball enticed Xavi, encouraging the captain to take a shot from long range and he wasn’t too far away from the corner with his driven effort.

Munir then came close to his second game, displaying tremendous pace and determination to get on the end of a through ball that seemed almost hopeless; he then proceeded to round the keeper, but his goalbound effort was cleared competently by the retreating Leon backline. With 20 minutes left to play, Barça were four goals to the good, with Luis Suarez yet to make an appearance, but his time was near. He got his instructions, shedded his training gear and waited for the referee to signal him on.

Oh, and Alejandro Grimaldo was coming on too, but we weren’t really bothered about that. This was all about Luis Suarez, who made his way onto the field for his Barça debut, replacing Rafinha to lead the line. His time was upon us, at least temporarily. Could he give us 15 minutes to savour ahead of the remaining two months of his ban?

Well, if he was going to give us a magical moment, it would have to wait – as Barça tried in vain to find Suarez at the back post in a particularly dangerous move, Munir ghosted in get on the end of Sandro’s selfless pass and place the ball into the bottom corner with his first touch. All he needed was one fell swoop of his left boot, and the ball was nestling in the back of the net.

This. Kid. Is. Special.

After playing the provider for the fifth, Sandro got in on the act with injury-time approaching, finishing off another chance with a powerful strike to wrap up a fantastic win.

While Suarez couldn’t add to Barça’s tally in the final ten minutes of the match, we’d already seen more than enough. The squad looks fit, the squad looks hungry; the squad looks ready for the new season. And it’s all thanks to Luis Enrique, not to mention the work of the oft-criticised Barcelona board who have reinforced the squad with a number of fantastic signings. Certainly, the future looks bright for FC Barcelona heading into next weekend’s season opener against Elche CF.

Until then, stick with Barça Blaugranes for more coverage and build-up of the season opener and keep your eyes peeled tomorrow for Xoel’s latest edition of "This Week in Barça". Benvinguts Lucho y visca el Barça!

Roll Call Info
Total comments 512
Total commenters 44
Commenter list ALongTimeLurker, Anders Thomassen, Anirudh_Kul, AristoBarca, Arron Duckling, Ayush Tiwari, Barcacatalunya, Bostjan Cernensek, FCBMo, First_Cule, Harshiv, Jonni, JoseM14, MMcCoy11_FCB, Mauste, NoImagination90, Outsmash, PatrickJM6, Raul311, Scratch and Snif, Staralfur, Steven Cordero, ThebeautifulGame, Timber Dave, Uncharted_Almo, VarkeychanT, ViscaViscaBarca, abdulla0207, ade fox, craig00000, datdudegrinds, dazed&confused7, ebieymjunior, footballfordoze, hobo_barca, istiaque, messism, msalmanz, purple40for60, robyn_bird96, syredeathtrooper, tilak, vgmessi1998, waseem10
Story URLs
# Commenter # Comments
1 Bostjan Cernensek 61
2 tilak 44
3 NoImagination90 43
4 ALongTimeLurker 42
5 syredeathtrooper 40
6 Ayush Tiwari 38
7 robyn_bird96 37
8 craig00000 35
9 msalmanz 19
10 MMcCoy11_FCB 15

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