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FC Barcelona got the summer programme off to a fine start on Saturday evening against Celtic FC in the Irish capital. After spending five days at Saint George’s Park, Birmingham, the next stop was Dublin and a date with the Scottish champions. A 3-1 win was a solid opening to the preseason, and here we pick out some of the key points from the encounter.
Arda Turan, first scorer. The Turk was playing in a preseason game for Barça for the first time, and had a fine game. He was on the field for 62 minutes and was able to score the first goal of the season for his team, albeit in an unofficial match. And a fine one it was too, coming on the back of an exquisite piece of skill from Aleix Vidal.
Aleix Vidal, 90 minutes. The full back was the only player to play all 90 minutes. Playing on the right, he won seven balls, made nine clearances and achieved an 85% pass rate. His great nutmeg prior to setting up the opening goal was his standout moment, and he ended the game wearing the captain’s armband.
Four captains and one symbolic skipper. Because so many changes were made, the captain’s armband was relayed from player to player as the game progressed. Leo Messi wore it for the first 45 minutes, and after the break it was seen around the arm of Sergi Roberto: After he was substituted after 62 minutes, it spent some twenty minutes in possession of goalkeeper Masip, who handed it to Samper when he left the field. But the player making his debut as a fully-fledged member of the first team only wore it for a few seconds before deciding to pass it on to Aleix Vidal.
Sergi Roberto, midfield general. The Catalan once again showed his class in the 62 minutes that he spent on the Dublin turf. Luis Enrique described him as “more than a player” after the match, in which he started just in front of the defence, from where he made an important contribution both to attack (58 good passes) and defence (9 tackles won and 11 clearances). He ended up playing in central midfield.
Cámara, MVP. A great game for the Barça B player, who started the match and played a key role in the proceedings. It was his cross that Ambrose turned into his own net to make it 2-1, and he was also involved in the build-up to the third goals, converted by Munir. He played at left-back, which is not his usual role for the B team, where he usually figures on the wing
Debut for Denis Suárez. It was a fine introduction to Denis Suárez, who picked up a quick understanding with Messi. He was on for 62 minutes in his first game for FC Barcelona, achieving an 85% pass rate. A number of Barça B players also made their debuts: José Antonio Martínez, Jesús Alfaro, Marlon, Rafa Mujica, Alex Carbonell, Carles Aleñá, Borja, Nili and José Aurelio Suárez. There were also chances for Cámara and Gumbau, who already had some first team experience last season.
Killer Munir. The striker started the match and was on for all but the last ten minutes. He scored the third Barça goal, but five of the total of 15 shots came off his boots, as did three of the five that were on target.
Messi as grand as ever. The Argentinian, who decided to cut short his holidays in order to re-join the team for the preseason, played the first 45 minutes. That was enough time for him to show moments of sheer class, such as the amazing 30 metre pass that led to goal number three.
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