Spanish Football’s FC Barcelona defeated Mexican champions Club Leon 6-0 yesterday at the Camp Nou with goals from Lionel Messi (3’), Neymar (12’ and 44’), Munir El Haddadi (55’ and 78’) and Sandro Ramirez (89’). The single game trophy contest, named Joan Gamper after a one time Barcelona club official, is the Catalans’ preseason dress rehearsal rite. This game, though, served many of Barca’s preseason purposes.
First, it showed that their top talent, Andres Iniesta, Messi, Neymar, Ivan Rakitic, and Luis Suarez, to name a few, are going to comprise a formidable club team this coming season. Without yet reaching full swing the Catalans were devastating and new coach, Luis Enrique, could not have been more pleased noticing Neymar has recovered from his World Cup injury, that Rakitic will fit in nicely in the high-caliber midfield, and that even the rusty Suarez showed he will soon be a force to contend with for his new club.
Second, the Catalans must contend with a Real Madrid that recently won the UEFA Super Cup and is boasting a reinvigorated Cristiano Ronaldo and the addition of Toni Kroos, James Rodriguez and Keylor Navas, to an already very strong squad. The Barca explosion was a bigger splash than Real’s earlier victory but both clubs showed they were already squaring off as the third member of last year’s triumvirate of contestants for the La Liga, Champions, and Copa del Rey trophies will not be the same without Diego Costa, despite their new Croatian import, Mario Mandzukic.
Third, Barca wanted to make a statement ahead of the new club year, which officially begins today with the first leg of the Spanish Supercopa. Messi and company wanted to make sure that whatever their toughest domestic rivals might soon achieve, the Catalans had flown their colors.
Fourth, questions abounded about how Enrique would play the newest look Barca, given their personnel changes, with new signings, recent and upcoming player sales and retirements, and what some argued was a needed reshuffling. As it turned out the majority of the players returned in their roles and the team looked pretty much set for the opening of the new year. The few changes the new coach chose to employ seemed to mix well, while leaving plenty of proven roster choices and options galore should modifications be called for down the line.
Some preseason La Liga competitions seem to presage the tenor of the competitions to come, the Joan Gumper trophy game yelled “Barca is here.” The UEFA Super Cup stated “So is Real.” Today we will find out if Atleti has anything to say or whether Real will have the last word and ride the impetus of a win into the new season.