After suffering defeat to Manchester United, Barcelona took a long flight to Washington, D.C. to continue their preseason tour. The next opponent in this "International Champions Cup" - a friendly competition - is another English rival, Chelsea.
Luis Enrique will again be without his Copa America players, most notably Neymar and Lionel Messi, but also Dani Alves, Javier Mascherano, and Claudio Bravo.
Pedro missed training on July 27th and Douglas missed the last match out of precaution but they should be OK for this match should Lucho decide to use them. Maybe he will opt to be extra cautious, however. Rafinha was injured in training and probably will be rested..
After defeating the Los Angeles Galaxy in the first game, the Blaugrana were not as sharp against the Red Devils in the second. Losing again would not matter too much, but it would put a little bit of a damper on things, so it's best to avoid it.
Still, we're likely to see the coach use a lot of fringe and youth players, ensuring the boys all get a chance to stretch their legs. Obviously, the team will be nowhere near 100%.
The London-based club lost 4-2 against the New York Red Bulls in their first match, so it's fair to say they are not in tip-top condition, either. They did beat Paris-Saint Germain on penalties after a 1-1 draw, however.
Cesc Fabregas returns to play against his hometown team in his second stint away from FC Barcelona. Jose Mourinho also coaches against the Blaugrana for the first time since leaving Real Madrid.
FC Barcelona 2-2 Chelsea - 24th April 2012 - UEFA Champions League
A depleted Barcelona were knocked out of the Champions League by a resilient 10-man Chelsea. Suprisingly, Sergio Busquets to open the scoring, and then Lionel Messi assisted Andres Iniesta to put the Blaugrana up 2-1 on aggregate. But Ramires would score before halftime, giving Chelsea the edge thanks to the away-goals rule. Because of injuries to David Villa and Ibrahim Afellay, Barcelona looked to young Isaac Cuenca and Cristian Tello to make the difference. Complicating matters, Gerard Pique had to be pulled out due to a concussion. This led to Barcelona having to stick Seydou Keita upfront as an improvised centerforward. No matter how the Blaugrana tried, Chelsea did not break. Messi missed a penalty - probably his only miss of real consequence. And with the game essentially over, Fernando Torres scored to put the result beyond any and all doubt.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Courtois; Ivanovic, Terry, Cahill, Luís; Matic, Fabregas; Hazard, Oscar, Willian; Costa
Barcelona (4-3-3): Ter Stergen; Douglas, Bartra, Vermaelen, Mathieu; Rakitic, Busquets, Roberto; Munir, Suárez, Pedro
You never know with friendly games as both teams will be limiting their effort and introducing a lot of players who likely will have small roles during the course of the season. Still, there is a genuine rivalry between Barcelona and Chelsea, and neither team gets much chance to express it. Both teams knocked each other out once in Champions League triumphs, both times in iconic fashion, and they haven't seen each other since. This won't match that level at all, but maybe those memories spark some intensity. I'll go with 2-1 for Barcelona.