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Boca Juniors were victorious in Tuesday’s Maradona Cup game at Mrsoul Park, Riyadh.
Ferran Jutglà put the Catalans ahead just after the break, but Boca found an equaliser late in the game and then earned the right to the trophy by winning the penalty shootout.
Despite the result, it was a fine performance from a very young Barça side which particularly in the second half mainly consisted of Barça B players, including some that were playing first team football for the very first time.
The biggest highlight was always going to be the sight of Dani Alves making his return debut. He was on for 90 minutes and very much involved in both the defending and attacking side of things from start to finish.
Cheered by the Saudi crowd every time he touched the ball, it was the Brazilian who wore the captain’s armband after Clément Lenglet came off at half-time – indicative of how Xavi Hernández intends to make the most of his leadership and experience, which was very much showcased in this game.
Another attraction in an experimental starting line-up was young Álvaro Sanz playing his first ever game for the first team – and in the holding midfielder role of his idol, Sergio Busquets!
Jutglà on target
He wasn’t the only debutant. Centre-back Mika Màrmol was given a run-out for the last half hour or so. Barça B captain Arnau Comas, who played in preseason friendlies, came on at the same time, and we also got to see some of Guillem Jaime and Matheus Pereira towards the end.
Jutglà, who came on at the end of the Osasuna game at the weekend, was on from the start, and it was he who opened the scoring with a fine turn and strike just after half-time.
Considering the lack of experience in the Barça line-up, it was a remarkable performance against what for much of the match was Boca Juniors’ full-strength eleven. In fact, they started with the same XI that recently played in and won the Copa Argentina final.
Barça had enjoyed most of the chances prior to taking their much-deserved lead.
Boca didn’t like that at all, but they hadn’t really created much real threat until Exequiel Zeballos finally equalised with a quarter of an hour left on the clock.
The game went to a shootout, and while Boca converted every one of theirs, Matheus had his saved and Guillem Jaime missed the target altogether.
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