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The players after the Marató per la Pobresa charity match / PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB

No one was left offside this afternoon at the Palau Sant Jordi during the charity match for TV3 and Catalonia Radio’s Marathon against Poverty. The stands were packed with supporters to watch the futsal match between Pep Guardiola’s Barça and Tito Vilanova’s Barça in a celebration of solidarity and brotherhood. The completely sold-out crowd, 14,000 to be precise, truly enjoyed the show put on by the Azulgrana players who exchanged their cleats for indoor shoes for the day. Valdés, Xavi, Iniesta, Pinto, Piqué... the whole team gave it their all to put on a spectacular show in their last (unofficial) match of the season.

The injured players also didn’t want to miss out on tonight’s match. They all watched the match from the stands, as did President Sandro Rosell. Only Messi, Mascherano, Alexis, Keita and Afellay, all called up for international duty, were missing. Pep Guardiola and Tito Vilanova called up Barça B players; Dos Santos, Ilie, Espinosa, Montoya, Tello, Bartra, Muniesa, Rodri, Masip and Gustavo all featured in today’s futsal match.

300 per goal for the Marathon against Poverty

Pep Guardiola presented his lineup: Masip, Sergio Busquets, Adriano, Iniesta, and Tello - the starting five. On his bench: Dos Santos, Muniesa and Gustavo. While Tito Vilanova sent out Pinto, Montoya, Piqué, Xavi and Pedro -starting five. On Tito’s bench: Bartra, Espinosa and Rodri. Valdés and Rodri were permanent fixtures on the court, they played for the team that had the ball. They all put in spectacular performances, and even though it was a friendly match, the goals were decisive. The Club decided that for every goal scored, 300 euros would be donated to the Marathon against Poverty. The game ended in an 8-8 draw, 16 goals which means 4,800 euros went to help individuals that are dealing with extreme poverty in and around Barcelona.

Valdés and Piqué, the heart of the party

The team’s dedication to the cause was evident, but Valdés and Piqué stole the show. The keeper, who left his gloves in the dressing room, fulfilled the dream that many children have: to be Messi for a day. Valdés customized his jersey by adding a zero adjacent to the number one that the keeper usually dons on his back to make 10, Leo Messi's number. In fact, Valdés did pretty well - he put Pinto to the test on more than one occasion.

Gerard Piqué was also determined to put on a show - the defender, acting like a Harlem Globetrotter, was the showman on the court. During halftime, he was even challenged by the Barça Alusport players (Barça’s professional futsal team), who were also present,  to nail a shot through a small grid in frot of the goal.

Farewell a la sardana

The Marathon against Poverty charity match was Barça’s last match of the season and the fans at the Palau Sant Jordi knew it. They chanted Guardiola’s name, who can now say that his time with Barça is officially over. The fans also chanted Tito Vilanova’s name, the incoming manager for next season. Éric Abidal also got a standing ovation from the fans.

With the final 8-8 result, the players decided to have a penalty shootout to decide the winner. Guardiola’s team were the victors. As is tradition, after the match the players performed a sardana (traditional Catalan dance) to close out the festive evening.

Raising funds for a good cause

The match between Guardiola and Tito Vilanova’s Barças was played to raise funds, through ticket sales and goals scored, for TV3 and Catalonia Radio’s Marathon against Poverty. The proceeds are allocated to organizations that focus on the plight of individuals that are at risk of social exclusion. On top of what was raised today, FC Barcelona have already donated 200,000 euros to the cause.

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