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It was less than 48 hours since their last league fixture with an over 10,000 km flight in between, but that neither that nor the rain in southern Japan could prevent FC Barcelona from cruising to victory in their end-of-season friendly against J-League outfit Vissel Kobe.
And alongside the experienced regulars, there were also a number of young debutants in the side. Mexican full-back Julián Araujo, Catalan midfielder Prim Coma and Basque forward Dani Rodriguez all started the match, while Marc Guiu and Héctor Font, the latter just 16 years of age, came on after the interval.
And towards the end of the game, there were also chances for Unai Hernández and reserve goalie Arnau Tenas.
Both goals came early in the game, after which there was a certain relaxation in the Barça ranks as the hosts tried in vain to get something out of the fixture.
Two early goals
For the first few minutes it looked we might have a tight contest on our hands, but Barça didn’t take long to make their superiority felt.
Just past the quarter hour mark, Pablo Torre picked out Franck Kessie with a nicely threaded through ball and the Ivorian made the finish look easy.
And moments later it was 2-0 when the same Torre floated in a corner and there was no stopping Eric García’s powerful header.
The home side gradually settled more into the game, and Iñaki Peña, standing in today for Ter Stegen, made a number of impressive saves, and there were also chances the man of the moment, Andrés Iniesta, defying his 39 years with some moments of sheer class in one of his last ever appearances for the club he joined from Barça in 2018.
There was an immense ovation for the living legend when he was substituted with about ten minutes to go, with the Barça players and coaches naturally joining in with the applause. After the game, the Barça players presented him with a commemorative jersey.
Of the newbies, Marc Guiu had a couple of excellent chances, but local stopper Daiya Maekawa was in inspired form and although Barça remained the more dominant of the two sides, they were unable to treat their impressively vociferous Japanese fans to any further goals.
All in all, it has been a fun way to end the season, and a wonderful opportunity to some players that we may be seeing a lot more of in the future.
As for where Iniesta is going next, that remains to be seen, but whatever he chooses to do next with his illustrious career, here at FC Barcelona we wish him all the very, very best.
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