Led by a Munir El Haddadi brace Barcelona cruised in their fourth preseason friendly game in Finland against HJK Helsinki. In a well-rounded performance Barça scored six goals, two by the aforementioned Munir, and one apiece from Sergi Roberto, Gerard Pique, Marc Bartra and Sandro Ramirez. The hosts were unable to crack the Barcelona defense and Jordi Masip in goal.
In his fourth preseason game at the helm of FC Barcelona Luis Enrique fielded his first (and hopefully not the last) La Masia starting XI. In goal there was recent Barça B graduate Masip, and in front of him the back four consisted of Martin Montoya, Pique, Bartra and Jordi Alba. The midfield trio was led by Barcelona vice-captain Andres Iniesta with Sergio Busquets and Roberto at his side. The three forwards were Pedro, Rafinha and newest La Masia star, Munir. The lineup was very similar to the one against Napoli from three days ago as Claudio Bravo and Ivan Rakitić were the only two removed from the starting lineup.
Barcelona started the game from midfield and, as expected, immediately dominated the ball. Barça quickly started buzzing around the hosts' net and less than five minutes into the game Munir put Barcelona in the lead. Iniesta placed a brilliant over the top ball straight to the youngster who left-footed it just inside of the far post of the goalkeeper Michael Tørnes.
Five minutes later Munir was once again in the thick of it as he picked up an assist on Sergi Roberto's goal that made it 2-0. Iniesta squared the ball to Roberto who played a lovely one-two with Munir and the Barcelona midfielder made no mistake as he slotted the ball into the back of the net.
The hosts occasionally made runs into the Barcelona half, but they didn't really manage to get close to Masip as the Barcelona defense maintained concentration and handed these situations very well.
Barcelona, on the other hand, scored again in the 16th minute with Munir picking up his second of the contest. The play developed on the right side of the pitch with Montoya playing the ball to Rafinha who was in space and sent a perfect cross into the penalty area where Munir rose the highest and headed the ball off the near post and over the goal-line.
Another six minutes later Barça scored their fourth of the game and Rafinha was once again the main provider, though this time he wasn't credited with the assist. The former Celta man made a brilliant run near the goal-line into the penalty box and found Munir in the middle, but his shot was blocked. The rebound fell nicely to Pedro who squared it to Pique on the left side and the center-back had an easy job to score from his position.
The opposition in this game might not have been to Barcelona's standards, but after scoring only two goals in the first three games, 270 minutes, the goal scoring potential of this team was in full display with four goals in 24 minutes.
Barcelona continued with the full-pitch pressing despite the four-goal lead and shortly after the half-hour mark first Pedro and then Rafinha came very close to extending Barça's lead. Both shots went wide of the goalkeeper's right crossbar, but Pedro missed from near the penalty spot while Rafinha fired his attempt from 25 yards out.
The pressure toward the HJK net continued until the halftime whistle, but as Barcelona were unable to add to the lead the score remained 4-0 in favor of Barcelona.
During halftime Barcelona made two substitutions, replacing Iniesta and Pique, both of whom largely impressed, with Rakitić and Edgar Ie. The first sub especially proved to be a very good one by Lucho as Rakitić assisted on Marc Bartra's goal just over four minutes after the restart. Montoya won a free kick near the right sideline, about 35 yards from the goal and Rakitić crossed the ball into the penalty area where Bartra won the aerial duel and headed the ball just inside of the post to complete the manita.
Rakitić almost got on the goal-scorers list himself five minutes later, but his 20-yard shot was well saved by HJK's substitute goalkeeper. Another five minutes later, at the one-hour mark, Enrique completed five substitutions. Sergi Samper, Alex Grimaldo, Gerard Deulofeu, Alen Halilović and Sandro were all subbed on as Alba, Busquets, Roberto, Rafinha and Munir were taken off.
The pace of the game slowed after Barcelona's fifth goal, but Barcelona still pressed high up the pitch when HJK were in possession, which was not often as Barcelona continued to dominate possession. But HJK occasionally still managed to launch a good attack and in the 75th minute Masip came up with a very strong save after a good looking attack down Barcelona's left side.
But Barcelona were not done scoring as in the 83rd minute Rakitić once against showed his playmaking skills, picking up his second assist in the half. This time it was from open play as he found Sandro in space on the right side of the penalty box and the Barcelona B player fired a bullet past the goalkeeper and into the back of the net.
Sandro's mark proved to be the last goal of the match as Barcelona for the first time under Lucho won in convincing fashion. Only one game is left for the Catalan side before the La Liga season begins, the Gamper Trophy game on 18 August. Yes, competitive football is just around the corner.
|Roll Call Info
|ALongTimeLurker, Anders Thomassen, Antonio Moreira, AristoBarca, Ayush Tiwari, BartraFTW, Bostjan Cernensek, Daxterflames, Eddie Pundell, FCB4Ever, Harshiv, Isuzu, Jake07, Leo4President, NeedName, NoImagination90, Petter Premberg, Ragnar_Lothbrok, Sina Mousavi, Som-i-Serem, barca96, craig00000, dazed&confused7, dlapa, footballfordoze, gimme alredy, ikool, kenyanbarcafan, msalmanz, pogis1991, rnmrqz, robyn_bird96, smb26, sudama.baraily, syredeathtrooper, thriller08, tilak
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