Australia: A brand new destination

Australia: A brand new destination

As FC Barcelona prepare to head to a country they have never visited before, we take a statistical look at the team's global travels over the years

On May 25, FC Barcelona are appearing at the Accor Stadium, Sydney in an end-of-season friendly against a team of A-League All Stars.

This will be first time in the team’s 123-year history that it has ever played a game in Australia. It will also be the first game between Barça and Australian opposition.

That makes Australia the 68th different country* in which Barça has played a game over the years.

Number of games played by FC Barcelona in different countries

UEFA: Holland (102); France (68, including Monaco); Germany (63); England (56); Italy (54); Portugal, Switzerland (24); Belgium (22); Scotland (17); Greece (15); Ukraine (11); Denmark (10); Sweden, Turkey (8); Czech Rep, Poland, Russia (7); Bulgaria, Serbia (5); Austria, Hungary (4); Croatia, Cyprus, Iceland, Norway, Romania (3); Albania, Andorra, Belarus, N Ireland, Rep Ireland (2); Finland, Georgia, Israel, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Slovakia, Wales (1)

Conmebol: Venezuela (14); Argentina (13); Ecuador (5); Colombia (4); Uruguay (3); Chile, Paraguay, Peru (1)

Concacaf: USA (34); Mexico (20); Curacao, El Salvador (1)

CAF: Morocco (8); Algeria (4); Egypt, South Africa (2)

AFC: Japan (17); China, Saudi Arabia (3); South Korea, Thailand, UAE (2); Hong Kong, Kuwait, Macao, Malaysia, Qatar, Australia (1)

*A ‘country’ is defined as a current FIFA member. Hence teams from the former Czechoslovakia, East Germany, USSR and Yugoslavia are counted as per their respective modern-day countries. Games in Morocco and Algeria are considered even before these countries had independent federations. Monaco (which Barça has visited five times) is included in France. Spain is not included, and neither is Palestine, which Barça visited on a ‘Peace Tour’ in 2013 but did not play any games while there.

Holland is by far the country in which Barça has played the most games. Particularly in the eras when Johan Cruyff and Louis van Gaal were managers, the team would travel there on extensive summer tours.

However, if we only count single visits, regardless of the number of actual games played while there, Holland drops to fifth in the list. The country Barça has visited the most turns out to be Germany (55 visits), followed by France (52), England (51), Italy (48), Holland (39), Portugal (23), Belgium (20), Switzerland (17), Scotland (15) and the USA (13).

Most common opponents (by country)

When considering the different nationalities of teams that Barça has played over the years (regardless of venue and including games played in Barcelona or elsewhere in Spain), a new country tops the list. Barça has played 178 games against different teams from England.

Andrés Iniesta in Barça's famous game at Stamford Bridge in 2009.
Andrés Iniesta in Barça's famous game at Stamford Bridge in 2009.

The English are followed in the top ten by Germany (152), Italy (143), Holland (126), France (125), Portugal (67), Brazil (60), Belgium (58), Switzerland (43) and the Czech Republic (40).

It’s curious to note that Brazilian teams have been Barça’s seventh most common opponents over the years, but the team has NEVER played a single game actually in Brazil!

Neymar Jr in the Joan Gamper Trophy against Santos in the summer of 2013
Neymar Jr in the Joan Gamper Trophy against Santos in the summer of 2013

Outside of UEFA, Brazil (60) is followed by Argentina (37), Mexico (31), Uruguay (19) and the USA (11) for providing the most opponents for games against Barça.

Aside from Brazil, the only other nationalities that Barça has faced without ever visiting their country are Libya (a friendly with Al-Ittihad at Camp Nou in 2003) and Bolivia (a friendly with Bolivar at the Ciutat Esportiva in 2009).

Friendly with Al-Ittihad at Camp Nou in 2003
Friendly with Al-Ittihad at Camp Nou in 2003

Most common opponents (by club)

It’s also interesting to note which actual clubs Barça have played the most. Counting both friendlies and competitive encounters, the Catalans’ most common rivals have been AC Milan (29 games).

The Italians are followed in the top ten by Benfica (23), Bayern Munich (22), Inter Milan (22), Juventus (22), Chelsea (19), Manchester United (18), Paris St Germain (18) and Celtic, Dinamo Kyiv, Porto and PSV Eindhoven (16).

Ronaldinho at the San Siro in the 2005/06 Champions League first leg.
Ronaldinho at the San Siro in the 2005/06 Champions League first leg.

As far as opponents from outside of the UEFA zone are concerned, there’s a three-way tie at the top between Boca Juniors (Argentina), Peñarol (Uruguay) and Vasco da Gama (Brazil), who Barça have each played on 11 occasions.

After that trio, we have Botafogo (Brazil) (8); Guadalajara (Mexico), Nacional (Uruguay) and Santos (Brazil) (7); America (Mexico) and Inter Porto Alegre (Brazil) (6) and River Plate (Argentina) (5).

Barça’s international milestones

1899: The first ever game with foreign opposition was also Barça’s first ever game, against the community of English footballers living in Barcelona.

1904: The first ever trip abroad was to play a friendly with Stade Toulusain of France. The same year, Stade Toulusain also became the first foreign club to visit Barcelona, unless we count a game in 1900 against the crew of a visiting British ship, HMS Calliope.

1907: Barça’s heaviest defeat ever to a foreign team, 9-1 against Olympique Marseille of France.

1925: The first ever game against a non-European team was a friendly at Les Corts, Barcelona against visiting Nacional of Uruguay

1928: The first ever game outside of Europe was against an Argentine XI in Buenos Aires.

1932: The first ever game in Africa was a friendly against ASMO Oran of Algeria (although the country was still a French territory at the time). This tour also brought Barça’s biggest ever win against a non-European team, 11-1 against Gallia Sports d’Alger.

1937: The first ever game in North America was against Club America of Mexico at the Parque España in Mexico City, the start of long tour of Mexico and the United States.

1957: Barça’s biggest ever defeat to a non-European team, 7-2 against Vasco da Gama of Brazil.

1990: The first ever game in Asia was against a J-League XI in Tokyo.

1992: Barça’s biggest ever win against a foreign team, 20-1 against Smilde of Holland.

2022: The game in Sydney will be Barça’s first ever in Oceania (although Australia is officially a member of the Asian AFC).

Força Barça
Força Barça

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