Barcelona ended their International Champions Cup tour with their second loss after 90 minutes, third overall, losing to Serie A side Fiorentina 2-1. All goals came in the first half with Federico Bernardeschi scoring the brace for the Italians and Luis Suarez scoring Barcelona's solitary goal.
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With many of the regular member of the starting XI still in Barcelona, a couple players injured and one still on vacation, Luis Enrique again had to put a very different team on the pitch. Sergi Roberto, as he's been experimenting for large stretches of the US tour, started at right back, while Gerard Pique, Thomas Vermaelen and Jordi Alba helped form the back-four. The midfield was where Barcelona looked most "gala" as Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta and Ivan Rakitić formed the midfield trio. Luis Suarez, Pedro and Rafinha played closest to the Fiorentina goal.
Barcelona started the game from midfield, but even though the Catalans saw more of the ball it were the Viola who were dictating play. And the hosts needed just four minutes to open the scoring, with Borja Valero for the first time (of many times) exposing the left side of the Barcelona defense. Borja easily sent the ball through the legs of Busquets and with Alba sitting back the former Villarreal man had time to find Bernardeschi in the middle who gave Marc-Andre ter Stegen no chance of stopping the header.
Barcelona seemed slightly stunned by the early goal, but tried to quickly level the score with Rakitić getting a couple good looks on target, but one of his shots, after a one-two with Pique, lacked power, while the second, after a lovely Alba cross, was blocked.
It would quickly get worse for Barcelona as this time Joaquin took full advantage of the left side of Barcelona's defense still being on vacation. The former Valencia player easily made his way past Alba and with Vermaelen offering no support the Spaniard had acres of space to get the ball to Bernardeschi who finished the play of with his second goal of the match.
That goal seemed to wake up Barcelona as from that point on the Catalans rarely gave up the ball and were able to create several good scoring chances in the process. Pedro often seemed in the thick of it, but his finishing was poor as his shots were often right at the goalkeeper or were just plain off the target. But in the 17th minute Barcelona managed to halve Fiorentina's lead. Alba sent a high ball to Rakitić who wasted no time and sent a first-touch pass right into the path of Suarez who, despite heavy shirt-pulling, found the back of the net.
After the half-hour mark Barcelona didn't dominate on the pitch as much as they did over the previous 15 minutes. Barcelona were still the better of the two teams, but Fiorentina were now also getting into the Barcelona area, though ter Stegen was left with little work. Barcelona, on the other hand, didn't get a good look on goal until the 39th minute, when Pedro played Suarez through, but Saurez scuffed the ball and came closer to hitting the corner flag than the goal itself.
Neither team created much over in the last stage of the first half, though Fiorentina came close to having a great chance in the dying seconds, but Bernardeschi strayed just offside. Just in case ter Stegen made a stunning right foot save 35-yards from goal.
During halftime, Lucho made one substations. Munir El Haddadi replaced Iniesta, who picked up a knock on the ankle midway through the first half. As a result of the change Rafinha, who spent the first half on the wing, moved to the midfield and Munir took his place in attack.
Both teams quickly exchanged trips to the opposing penalty areas, but neither side was able to get a shot on goal. Barça came closest though as only a last ditch tackle prevented the ball from getting to Suarez, who was ready to power the ball for what was an almost certain equalizer. Defensively Barcelona continued to struggle on the left side, where many different Viola players found success against Alba and Vermaelen. The right side, however, often seemed impenetrable, even though it featured the recently converted Roberto. Speaking of the 23-year-old, he had a very strong game all-around which included several very accurate crosses. Including one to Suarez early in the second half that had it not been for a good save from Ciprian Tătărușanu would've been converted into a goal.
Tătărușanu made another brilliant save in the 63rd minute, again on Suarez who was this time alone in front of the Romanian, but the goalkeeper again got the best of Suarez. Pedro had an even better opportunity to equalize from the ensuing rebound, but his shot was expertly blocked by the defender. Immediately after the missed chances Enrique made two more subs, replacing Rakitić and Suarez with Marc Bartra and Sandro Ramirez. With Bartra on the pitch Roberto took over the spot Rakitić occupied before.
Even with two of the most senior and most consistent players on this preseason tour off the pitch, Barcelona continued to press hard for the equalizer. First Munir tried to surprise the goalkeeper with a sneaky shot from the left wing, but Tătărușanu made yet another excellent save. Later, Rafinha was found in space by Sandro, but the midfielder wasted too much time setting up and the chance went begging.
In the 77th minute Lucho made two more substitutions, Gerard Gumbau and Jordi Masip took the places of Rafinha and ter Stegen.
Barcelona maintained most of the possession in their hands, with Fiorentina counter attacks in between Barcelona attacks, but with most key players on the bench or in Barcelona the killer instincts were missing for the Catalans. Lacking were defense-splitting passes and dangerous shots. There were glimpses of something happening, but in the end nothing materialized in a goal, resulting in Barcelona's second regulation loss of the preseason tour.
Barcelona have only one unofficial game left, the Gamper Trophy game in which Barcelona figures to be in full strength. The game will be played on August 5 against Roma at the Camp Nou.
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