Barcelona and Manchester City put on a great show in their charity match on Wednesday night at the Spotify Camp Nou which ended in a 3-3 draw in a very entertaining affair. Barça played well for most of the match and competed at a high level against one of the best teams in Europe, and the two sides shared the spoils in front of over 91,000 fans who packed the Blaugrana’s home to raise funds for ALS research and watch a very fun game of football.
Barça started the game brightly, pressing City’s buildup play well and creating chances by moving the ball quickly from back to front with Jules Koundé, Franck Kessie and Raphinha heavily involved as the Blaugrana attacked mostly through the right wing.
Kessie hit the post after a nice solo run and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang missed an open header from just 10 yards, and Barça should have been ahead after 20 minutes. But it was the away team that took the lead in horrible fashion when Iñaki Peña couldn’t claim a simple cross and dropped the ball right at the foot of Julian Álvarez who scored the easiest goal of his career.
Barça responded well, however, and got the equalizer just eight minutes later when a cross into the box was deflected into the path of Aubameyang and the Gabonese fired a rocket of a volley into the near post that was too strong for Stefan Ortega to deal with.
The final 15 minutes had very little meaningful action as both teams mostly cancelled each other and a hard-fought, competitive friendly was all square at halftime.
The final period continued to be well played by both sides, though Barça had a lot of trouble getting out of City’s press and constantly gave the ball away in dangerous positions.
But the Blaugrana also did a good job pressing on the other end, and that led to their second goal when Gavi intercepted a Kevin De Bruyne pass inside the City box, and after Ortega saved Memphis Depay’s shot the ball fell to Frenkie De Jong who put the home team ahead.
City responded right away and equalized after a great passing sequence and an assist from João Cancelo to Cole Palmer to make it 2-2 with 20 minutes to go. The game stayed wide open and Barça had some big chances, and they finally took one on a nice counter attack that ended with a good assist from Sergi Roberto and a perfect finish from Memphis.
After a lengthy stoppage due to a head injury for a City player, the visitors went in search of an equalizer and got a penalty deep into added time when Andreas Christensen brought down Erling Haaland inside the box. Riyad Mahrez stepped up and found the net, and the score was tied once again.
The final whistle came to end a great night of football at the Greatest Stadium on Earth. Former Barça player and coach Juan Carlos Unzué showed a lot of grace and strength and gave a beautiful speech before the game, and the two teams put on a show for 90 minutes to make him smile even more.
Barça had some pretty bright moments and looked strong going forward against a world-class opponent, and plenty of players got some important playing time as this young season gets underway. Quite a fun night.
Barcelona: Peña (Tenas 81’); Roberto (Dest 81’), Koundé (Christensen 81’), Piqué (Eric 57’), Alba (Balde 57’); Kessie (Gavi 57’), Busquets (Pjanic 72’), De Jong (Torre 72’); Raphinha (Ez Abde 72’), Aubameyang (Memphis 57’), Ferran (Fati 46’)
Goals: Aubameyang (29’), De Jong (66’), Memphis (79’)
Man City: Ortega; Lewis (Cancelo 46’), Walker (Stones 46’), Dias (Mbete 64’ (Bobb 90+6’)), Gómez (Wilson-Esbrand 46’); Bernardo (De Bruyne 64’), Phillips (Rodri 57’), Palmer; Mahrez, Álvarez (Haaland 72’), Foden (Gundogan 64’)
Goals: Álvarez (21’), Palmer (70’), Mahrez (pen 90+9’)