Barcelona began preparations for the 2022-23 season with a 1-1 draw against Fourth Division side UE Olot on a hot Wednesday evening in Catalonia. Xavi Hernández’s side was in control for most of the game but could only score once, and conceded a penalty just before halftime that gave the home team a very nice result in their 100th anniversary celebration.
For the first game of preseason on a very hot day with a team that’s never played together before and has been training for just over a week, Barça actually looked pretty good in the first half. The Blaugrana dominated possession and had some very interesting moments in attack, and had chances to score at least twice in the period.
New signing Pablo Torre was the absolute star of the show, dominating midfield with his movement, intelligence and passing ability, and he showed a lot of maturity for a 19-year-old playing his first game for Barça.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was also heavily involved in the action, and he got the opening goal after a sensational kick by Marc-André ter Stegen that traveled over 70 yards in the air to find Aubameyang who scored a beautiful lob over the keeper from outside the box to give the visitors the lead.
But Olot had a good response and eventually found an equalizer after Mika Mármol committed a silly penalty inside the box. Captain Eloi stepped up and scored from the spot, and we were all square at halftime after a fun 45 minutes.
The final period followed a similar script to the first: Barça, with a new XI headlined by Pedri and Ansu Fati, continued to dominate possession and create some very good chances while Olot tried to stay solid at the back and hit the visitors on the counter.
Àlex Valle and Antonio Aranda were the Barça players who came closest to scoring in the second half, with Pedri and Fati also missing a couple of half-chances that could and maybe should have gone in.
As we reached the final minutes, Olot made a late push to try and find a famous winner and came very close twice, but Barça’s backup keeper Iñaki Peña made two fantastic saves to keep his team in it.
The final whistle came to end the friendly with a 1-1 draw, in a game that was a lot better than expected considering it was a very hot mid-July evening and a Barça team missing half of the squad. There were some very nice performances from a few youngsters, but ultimately there’s no reason to overreact to the result or the performance. It was just nice to see Barça playing football again, and that gold kit is just marvelous.
UE Olot: Batalla; Callís, Moratalla, Ayala, Carles, Bigas; Eloi, Manzano, Urri, Terma; Ferrán
Goal: Eloi (pen 45’)
Barcelona 1st Half: Ter Stegen; Dest, Casas, Mármol, Valle; Kessie, Nico, Torre; Akhomach, Aubameyang, Ez Abde
Barcelona 2nd Half: Peña; Casadó, Casas (Blanco), Chadi, Balde; Aranda, Pjanic, Pedri; Collado, Fati, Valle
Goal: Aubameyang (28’)