Barcelona finished their preseason preparations with a strong 3-0 victory over Argentine champions Boca Juniors in the Joan Gamper Trophy, the annual Camp Nou opener. Ernesto Valverde used 22 players in this match and saw a dominant performance from the two Barça teams over 90 minutes, and the squad looks quite sharp to start the new season.
Valverde started a mix of first team regulars and reserves, and the team played pretty well. The possession work was good, there were good chances created throughout the half, and two very good goals: first it was Malcom who opened the scoring after an assist from Lionel Messi gave him a assist to fire a rocket into the bottom corner.
Messi would then join the scoring party after accidentally (but maybe not, this is Messi we’re talking about) making a one-two with a Boca Juniors defender before chipping the goalkeeper to double Barça’s lead.
Despite Barça’s strong performance, it wasn’t easy. Boca defended very well and were a constant threat on the counter and on set pieces. They could have easily scored at least once, and maybe Sebastián Villa should have had right before the end of the half when he found himself alone in front of Ter Stegen, but the young Colombian hit the post.
At halftime, Barça were the better team and in full control, but Boca showed there was still work to be done in the final period.
Valverde changed his entire XI in the first minutes of the second half, which is what usually happens in the Gamper and also because there’s a La Liga game this weekend.
Despite all the substitutions, Barça continued to be dominant with the ball and never stoped creating chances. Rafinha and Arthur once again bossed the midfield, and Riqui Puig continues to be a revelation in this preseason.
Speaking of Rafinha, the Brazilian was responsible for the best goal of the match when he made a one-two with Luis Suárez, chested the ball down, flicked the ball over the goalkeeper’s head and tapped home an incredible goal to triple Barça’s lead. The game was over at that point, and Barça just cruised through the final 20 minutes.
Barcelona 1st Half: Ter Stegen; Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti, Miranda; Coutinho, Rakitic, Vidal; Messi, Munir, Malcom
Barcelona 2nd Half: Cillessen; Semedo, Busquets, Lenglet, Vermaelen; Rafinha, Arthur, Puig; Dembélé, Suárez, Alcácer
Goals: Malcom (18’), Messi (39’), Rafinha (67’)
Boca: Andrada; Buffarini, Goltz, Izquierdos, Olaza (Más); Reynoso (Pérez), Barrios (Almendra), Nández (Tévez); Villa, Ábila (Zárate), Cardona (Pavón)