Barcelona bounced back from the loss against Manchester United to end the United States tour in exciting fashion, drawing with Chelsea 2-2 in Washington with a great game from most of the 21 players Luis Enrique used in the match. The loss eventually came on penalty kicks, but the performance was comforting, especially after Saturday's defeat to the Red Devils.
It did not look like a preseason game. At all. Both teams were highly intense, fighting for balls and pressing high on defense. Eden Hazard, who does not know what a friendly means, did one of his trademark runs where he dribbles through the defenders and creates a magical goal. But after that, Barça started to dominate the actions and impose its usual style.
That dominance led to a comeback. Luis Suárez and Sandro Ramírez scored beautiful goals to put the Blaugrana in front, and the Catalans were able to retain possession and survive Chelsea's late push even with a totally new team. Until Jordi Masip screwed things up, including Gary Cahill's face, and an ill-fated attempt to clear a corner kick by Barça's third keeper led to the equalizer.
The only bad news from a good night: Douglas Pereira left the game only 15 minutes in with a torn hamstring, and the only backup to Dani Alves until January is out at least until October. Damn.
1. The second kit is even awesomer on the field. I’ve been on the Second Kit Bandwagon since the beginning. The idea of using the Senyera colors only on the back was perfect, and the kit looks modern and classic at the same time. The blue shorts are a nice contrast to the jersey, and the kit fits the players perfectly. I became a fan of the home kit after I saw it on the field. The away kit was already fantastic as a concept, but it’s actually better with, you know, people wearing them.
2. Ter Stegen is going Full Neuer, and it’s amazing. It’s incredible how the German keeper seems to become better with every performance. We all know about his reflexes and his abilities below the posts, but the US tour, and especially the Chelsea game, showed another step on Stegen’s evolution: the talent of working as a sweeper-keeper. His fellow countryman Manuel Neuer became famous for doing it, but Ter Stegen can also make it his own trademark. His ability to play with the ball on his feet is off the charts, and if he can sweep as well as he saves, then he’s definitely entering the group of best goalkeepers in football.
3. Trying Busquets higher is fine, but Samper has got to play. I like Gumbau, and he played much better after a shaky start, but he’s nowhere near as talented as Sergi Samper. Yes, Samper did get to play, but it wasn’t in the most competitive portion of the match. He’s so good for his age, and he needs to be tested as much as possible. Luis Enrique loves trying new things with Busquets from time to time, and Sergio was solid playing higher up and closer to the attackers. It’s preseason, so it’s okay to do those experiments. But the spot that opens up behind Busquets and Rakitic has to belong to Samper. But I get that Lucho tried to lift Gumbau’s spirits after two mediocre appearances. However, Samper might have to step up until Turan plays in January. If he doesn’t get any real competitive playing time, will he have enough confidence?