Why did Barcelona go play a friendly against Al Ahli in Qatar sandwiched between league games against Osasuna and Espanyol?
There’s no other reason for it. Usually you play friendlies to sharpen players or experiment. And while there were a few positives from the match, it’s not anything that couldn’t have been accomplished without a long flight to Qatar.
Barcelona need money to pay the ridiculous salaries and transfer fees necessary to run a club of that caliber. And Qatar has money, plenty of it.
It’s a trip which puts extra stress on the players, not just from running during the game but the whole process of playing, travelling, playing, travelling back, and playing again.
Luis Enrique’s hands were tied as far as picking a lineup. We don’t know the specifics, but for sure there were clauses that said Barcelona would only get such-and-such fee if certain players made an appearance however minutes long.
Money is a necessary evil that Barcelona has been willing to compromise on. The front of the shirt has a sponsor now, and there are rumors that the Camp Nou might get a corporate sponsor, too.
While those have to do with the “integrity” or “purity” of the club, this friendly put the players’ fitness on the line, and by extension, the team’s success.
We all know money is not just important, but absolutely necessary to keep the team competing at this level. But is there no other way to raise it? The squad is already stretched as it is, dealing with between three and six competitions a year, plus international dates and tournaments.
The only casualty of the expedition to Qatar was B teamer Carles Aleñá, who injured himself during the match and will not play for the rest of the year.
Hopefully the team took it easy during the trip and they will affront Espanyol at peak fitness, but one wonders if the gamble is worth it - even for a lot of money.