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FC Barcelona have won the 51st edition of its own Joan Gamper Trophy with a 3-2 win over Italian guests Sampdoria on the night that the Camp Nou made its first contact with the 2016/17 squad, and especially with the five new signings. All of them were given time on pitch in front of a carnival atmosphere that was led by a sparkling performance from MVP Leo Messi, who scored the second and third goals after setting up the first in extraordinary fashion.
With Lucas Digne the only new signing to start the encounter, Barça powered out of the blocks. But other than a header wide by Arda Turan, the first quarter of an hour was rather lacking in meaningful goalmouth action. All that changed with a moment of magic from Leo Messi. At first it looked like the Argentinian had fumbled a bicycle kick. He hadn’t. What he had done was provide a stunning overhead assist for Luis Suárez.
Five minutes after that and Messi was at it again, this time finishing off a move he had started himself. He beat the offside trap to receive the ball and rounded visiting keeper Viviano with the kind of nonchalant class that only he knows how to deliver.
More Messi magic
The game had burst into life, but Sampdoria quickly issued a reminder that they hadn’t just come to Barcelona to make up the numbers. No sooner was the ball moving again when the carnival mood was dampened by Muriel blasting through the Barça defence to get the Italians back to within one.
The thousands of tourists that had flooded to the Camp Nou watch Messi live certainly got what they came for. On 33 minutes, he was at it again, this time rifling a long range free kick through the Sampdoria wall to score his second of the night and make it 3-1.
Chance for everyone
After all the thrills of the first half, the second was a considerably less lively affair, with Luis Enrique making wholesale changes and giving minutes to all of the new additions to his squad – Samper, Denis Suárez, Umtiti and André Gomes, the latter two for their first ever appearances in a Barça shirt.
Denis had only been on the field for eight minutes when he hit the post, but the 77th minute saw what had seemed to be a comfortable win thrown into doubt when Budimir rammed home a cross to get the Serie A side back to 3-2.
But Barça never looked like losing control of the game and continued to look the stronger side as the minutes ticked by to the final whistle, which came moments after Luis Suárez very nearly made it four when his fine free-kick was tipped over the bar. Particularly due to his stunning first half performance, Messi collected the man of the match award.
The Gamper Trophy stayed in Barcelona for the fourth time in a row, and also provided Luis Enrique with the chance to see all of his players in match action ahead of the first competitive fixture of 2016/16, the Spanish Super Cup first leg in Seville on Sunday.
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