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After defeating Celtic and Leicester, Barça have failed to complete a British treble in the International Champions Cup by going down to 3-0 defeat to Liverpool in front of 89,845 people, the second largest crowd ever to assemble at Wembley.
Other than Juan Cámara, Luis Enrique began with only first-team players, reserving his Barça B contingent and those that have only recently reported back to training for the second half.
But it was Liverpool who looked the sharper side right from the off, and last season’s Europa League finalists were good value for their 1-0 lead on the quarter hour. Lallana latched onto a Barça error in midfield to spark off a rapid counter attack culminated by their new Senegalese signing Sadio Mané.
It wasn’t until after going one down that Barça finally took the reins of the game. Messi hit the ball onto the post, Arda had a great chance to convert a deflection at close range and a fine save from Mignolet denied Luis Suárez towards the end of the half. But the first 45 minutes ended without the Catalans having managed to turn their dominance of the possession into goals.
Claudio Bravo and Sergi Roberto joined the fray for what would be a calamitous opening to the second half, with Barça conceding two goals in as many minutes after the restart. It looked like Henderson had scored the first, but it was actually Mascherano who ended up bundling the ball into his own net. Mere moments later, Liverpool capitalised on another error to steal the ball in midfield and Divock Origi finished off the move by making it 3-0.
Barça were struggling to hold their shape, and were fortunate not to go further behind when Roberto Firmino was through solo on Bravo but fired his shot wide.
Ovation for Suárez
Luis Enrique made four changes on the hour mark, sending on Rakitic, Iniesta and Piqué for their first match practice of the preseason, and Lucas Digne to make his unofficial debut in a Barça shirt. Further changes were made as the half progressed, with the mainly Liverpool supporting crowd offering a stirring ovation to former Anfield favourite Luis Suárez when he departed the field.
With so many changes and the chances of a Barça comeback looking less and less likely, most of the sting went out of the game as it drew to a close. But there was still time for the ‘home’ side to add a fourth right at the end, Markovic leading a counter-attack that Grujic finished off with his head.
Liverpool are to be commended on a thoroughly deserved victory. But although defeat is never pleasant, it shouldn’t have set too many alarm bells ringing among Luis Enrique and his squad. Despite the result, this was ultimately just a warm-up exercise and things don’t start getting truly competitive until the Spanish Super Cup first leg in seven day’s time.
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