FC Barcelona and Rakuten present Matchday, a new documentary series in which viewers will get to enjoy exclusive never-seen-before footage of Ernesto Valverde’s squad. For the first time ever, TV cameras were allowed to film the everyday lives of players such as Leo Messi, Gerard Piqué, Marc-André ter Stegen and Luis Suárez, offering a more intimate portrait of them both during competition and in their personal lives.
How to watch Matchday
The series will be available in Europe exclusively through video on demand platform Rakuten TV, completely free, from November 29. It can be seen via the AVOD (ad-supported video on-demand) service. Since October, Rakuten TV has incorporated a free section that allows users to see different content at no cost, with brief advertisement breaks. The documentary will also be launched in Japan on November 29, and at a later date will be released through Rakuten TV -or in collaboration with other operators- in the Asian-Pacific (APAC) region and the USA. FC Barcelona have also reserved the broadcast rights to the series in Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), and Canada.
Key moments of the season
Narrated by acclaimed actor John Malkovich the new series consists of eight 45-minute episodes based around eight key games that the team played in the 2018/19 season. Premiering on November 29 on Rakuten TV in Europe, the series is narrated by actor John Malkovich and each instalment will allow viewers to experience ‘from inside’ how players faced all those important matches, from their arrival to the dressing room to their stepping out onto the pitch. Matchday also presents fly-on-the-wall footage of the excitement of victory and how the players deal with defeats.
Among the key events of the past season covered throughout the different episodes is El Clásico, the subject of two episodes showing how players prepare for the match, how they handle the pressure of this important event and their experience of the 90 minutes on the field of play. Specifically, the series covers the game at the Camp Nou won 5-1 by Barça, as well as the Copa del Rey match at the Santiago Bernabéu that ended 0-3. However, the other side of the game is reflected in another episode, showing the disappointment after the Champions League game against Liverpool at Anfield and Barça's elimination from the competition.
Episode 1 ‘A football classic’
On October 28th, 2018, the Camp Nou hosted a comprehensive 5-1 victory for FC Barcelona, featuring a hat trick for Luis Suárez. The game is recapped in the opening episode, which also shows the Uruguayan striker’s family life and how Gerard Piqué sees the rivalry between the clubs that he has experienced since he was a child.
Episode 2 ‘Enemy territory’
Just a few weeks after Barça’s El Clásico victory, the Copa del Rey draw brought them face-to-face with Real Madrid once again -this time over two legs. The draw in the first leg of the semifinal, with a cameo from striker Malcom, left the tie open for the trip to the Santiago Bernabéu. There, Marc-André ter Stegen was the hero. The German goalkeeper also reveals his passion for Barcelona in this episode.
Episode 3 ‘The curse’
In recent seasons FC Barcelona have fallen at the quarter final stage of the Champions Leeague. Now they have to overcome another historic club, when they meet Manchester United with a place in the semifinals at stake. In this episode, Gerard Piqué returns to the house where he lived as a youth, and new teammate Clément Lénglet -signed months before and already a regular starter- is visited by his brothers. The duo are vital to achieving success at Old Trafford, and subsequently clinching their spot in the semis at the Camp Nou.
Episode 4 ‘The Neighbors’
A derby against Espanyol is always a special game, and Ernesto Valverde knows that well. He discovered a passion for photography when he played for Barça’s neighbours, Espanyol. Another player with history in blue and white is Philippe Coutinho, who is the focus of Episode 4.
Episode 5 ‘Match point’
Coming into April, FC Barcelona’s 2018/19 league form has been practically impeccable, and they hold an advantage at the top of the table. The last challenge to leave the title all-butwon for an eighth time in eleven seasons was a home game against Atletico Madrid. Two neighbours, friends and teammates, Leo Messi and Luis Suárez, take it upon themselves to impose Barça’s dominance. FC BARCELONA
Episode 6 ‘European night’
A big game is approaching in the Champions League. The semifinal between FC Barcelona and Liverpool means another huge European night at the Camp Nou. Ernesto Valverde and his men prepare for the game at the Ciutat Esportiva, and the stadium provides all the atmosphere of a momentous occasion. The game is packed with drama, and the result satisfactory for Barça after a great goal by Leo Messi.
Episode 7 ‘The eighteen-day storm’
With the LaLiga title in the bag, FC Barcelona face the final stage of what has the potential to be an historic season… but their dreams turn into disappointment in the space of just 18 days. The Blaugrana lose in the Champions League semifinal second leg against Liverpool at Anfield, and suffer defeat to Valencia in the Copa del Rey final in Seville. Both games leave the team and the fans unhappy.
Episode 8 ‘A new beginning’
After celebrating the LaLiga title at the Camp Nou, the disappointment of Anfield and the Copa del Rey put FC Barcelona to the test. But that’s sport, and the team and the fans -whose motto is ‘More than a club’- look ahead to the next season with renewed hope, new blood from the youth team such as Carles Aleñà, and exciting signings like Frenkie de Jong and Antoine Griezmann.
In addition to football, the new series will also portray insights into players’ daily lives off the pitch, such as a barbecue at Luis Suárez's house with Leo Messi and Jordi Alba; Piqué enjoying his free time together with his family; Ter Stegen designing his new house, or Ivan Rakitic cooking.
Matchday will also feature contributions from different people who, through personal experiences, have become part of Barça. Examples of these are Rafa, the firefighter who, despite having lost his sight in an explosion, continues to attend the Camp Nou when the club plays, and Andrey, a fan from Russia who follows FC Barcelona wherever they go.
A Barça Studios production
Matchday is a Barça Studios production. The studio centralises the creation, production and commercialisation of all FC Barcelona audiovisual content. In this case, Matchday has been produced in collaboration with Rakuten in association with Rakuten H Collective Studio, Kosmos Studios and Producciones del Barrio.
The new series will premiere in Europe in November, to be followed by release through Rakuten TV or in partnership with other operators in the APAC region and the United States. FC Barcelona have reserved the rights in Africa, Latin America, MENA and Canada.