As the final leg of Barcelona’s tour was almost over, it had become clear that Barcelona fans were more than disappointed with the performance of the team during this preseason tour; losing two matches consecutively against Manchester United and CD Guadalajara.
Yes, the team may still be missing a few of the regular starters, but this is Barcelona. Guardiola was getting anxious for a win too, and it was evident that he meant business during the final match of the tour, as his starting line-up included less of the B-squad, and more regular season starters such as Pique, Xavi, Villa, Iniesta, Busquets, Pedro and Abidal.
The Cowboys Stadium, venue to the final match of the World Football Challenge is a stadium built for greatness; a closed roof due to the heat in Texas keeps the noise in, and indeed helps build the atmosphere, while the building itself seats over 90,000 and Jerry Jones decided to install the largest LCD screens in the world to ensure that even those all the way in the seats way up top, would still feel like part of the experience.
Personally, I found them somewhat distracting and prefer watching the game live.
The stadium filled up 2/3 of its capacity, with just over 60,000 tickets sold. Unlike the other matches where the Barcelona fans outnumbered the competition, this one seemed like an equal distribution of fans. Perhaps the location of the last match had some part in that equation, but either way all the fans were equally anxious and excited to see the teams clash.
The first half saw that Barcelona magic restored for the first time during the tour, to great pleasure of the fans that were in store to witness the chemistry that undoubtedly exists between these players. The first half saw Barcelona on attack and hungry for a goal, keeping Club America GK, Navarette on his toes for the majority of the first half.
Their persistence paid off, as Adriano passed a beautiful ball to Villa, who managed to put Barcelona up by a goal in the 24th with an astonishing header. Navarette was left helpless.
This goal changed the pace of the game, as Club America started pushing forward looking to equalize. The first half would appear to belong to Barcelona, who had 10 shots as opposed to Club America’s 1. As for shots on goal, Barcelona had three more than Team America, and that was only the first half.
As the second half commenced, it was evident that Club America striker, Vicente Sanchez could pose some issues for FCB, attacking over and over. This time around, Valdes was the one being kept on his toes.
The second half saw numerous substitutions from both sides; Guardiola took Xavi, Adriano, Pique, Iniesta, Valdes, Pedro and Villa out, and brought in more of the youngsters including Dos Santos, Fontas, Cuenca, Gomez, Masip, Deulofeu and Carmona. Club America also made some substitutions, mixing up their formation in hopes of equalizing.
Even with both sides making numerous substitutions, it would prove unsuccessful for Club America coach, Carlos Reinoso, whose side seemed to fall short against Barcelona’s mostly B-squad team. The stats would show that Club America put up a fight, acquiring the same amount of shots on goal as Barcelona in the second half.
Barcelona solidified their lead in the 90th minute with a goal by Keita, assisted by Deulofeu to the pleasure of the fans that had remained shockingly quiet during the majority of the game, which certainly was not lacking in exciting attacks, as well as counterattacks.
This would be Barcelona’s first win during the World Football Challenge, which saw their rivals, Real Madrid end the tournament in first position with 17 points.
Is this a preview for the La Liga season that lies ahead?
Guardiola would like to think that this preseason has been a successful one for his team; matter of fact they are behind in training in comparison to both Real Madrid and Manchester United, and Pep stands by his statement from the Manchester United match, where he said he was beyond content with his teams progress.
Guardiola furthermore thanked all of the fans for their support during their tour, still slightly flabbergasted by the overwhelming response. He chuckled as he was questioned as to why he thought his team was so popular in the USA.
His response, he believes it is because the games are accessible on television. Pique was equally grateful for the overwhelming response that they received in all three cities, stating that there was certainly more fans than there were three years ago.
He was content with the development; “Even in a country where soccer is not as important as football or baseball, soccer seems to be catching on”.
The team returned to Spain last night, following the match. For the team, the tour has been a great experience, ranging from meeting the President to numerous charity events including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation event, as well as a UNICEF event.
FCB is set to face rivals Real Madrid on August 14th with their entire squad intact.
You can photos of Barcelona’s North American tour at Michelle’s website – www.porelamordeljuego.blogspot.com
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