Barcelona made their start to the new season with a very fun International Champions Cup friendly against Tottenham Hotspur at the Rose Bowl on Saturday night. The Blaugrana would eventually win on penalties, but the big story is the first 45 minutes in which the reigning La Liga champions were simply fantastic and gave us reasons to be excited about what’s ahead.
4-3-3. Midfield dominance. Beautiful goals that came from high pressing and awesome passing sequences. It was just the first half of the first preseason game, but oh it was good to watch the real Barcelona play again. It was beautiful, it was dominant, it was suffocating, it was impressive, it was exciting, and it was effective.
Spurs had a good start with their high pressing forcing a couple of nervous long balls from the Barça backline, but as soon as Arthur took control of the game everyone calmed down and the Blaugrana started to dominate. The Brazilian was really the star of the first half, demanding the ball at all times, making quick and smart decisions, all while delivering perfect passes time and time again.
The goals happened too. The first with a tap-in from Munir El-Haddadi, and the second thanks to a spectacular debut goal by Arthur. Barça went into halftime with a commanding lead, and quite a few exciting signs for coaches and fans.
Ernesto Valverde decided to field an entirely different starting outfield team for the second half, with nine Barça B players and new signining Malcom looking to show the manager their worth.
Because Tottenham had more experienced first team players, they naturally had more of the ball and were the better team in the final period, with Christian Eriksen hitting the post from a free kick early in the second half and looking the most dangerous player on the pitch.
For a while it seemed like nothing would happen as the young Barça boys managed to control the game, but in just two minutes Heung-Min Son and Geórges-Kevin Nkoudou scored thanks to two bad mistakes by the Blaugrana defenders and the game was all even out of nowhere.
As we reached the final 15 minutes, it looked like Spurs were more likely to complete the comeback and win the game as Barça were on the ropes just trying to survive, but the young Blaugrana managed to hold on to the draw and we went to penalties.
All five Barça takers scored really good penalties, and Jasper Cillessen saved one of Tottenham’s spot kicks to give the Blaugrana a 5-3 win and start preseason with 90 fun minutes of football and a really good penalty shootout.
Barcelona: Cillessen; Semedo (Palencia), Marlon (Mingueza), Lenglet (Cuenca), Miranda (Cucurella); Arthur (Collado), Roberto (Monchu), Gomes (Puig); Rafinha (Malcom), Munir (Ruiz), Denis (Pérez (Ballou))
Goals: Munir (15’), Arthur (29’)
Tottenham: Gazzaniga (Vorm); Aurier, Carter-Vickers, Davies, Walker-Peters (Sánchez); Sissoko (Nkoudou), Amos, Eriksen; Lucas (Georgiou), Llorente (Skipp), Son
Goals: Son (73’), Nkoudou (75’)