FC Barcelona beat a Malaysia XI to bring the tour of Asia to a satisfactory close. The 1-3 win in Kuala Lumpur put the seal on “a positive pre-season from a footballing point of view”, according to manager Tata Martino. The downside of the match was the ankle injury that Cesc picked up in the closing minutes of the game that forced him to limp off the pitch. The match left us with a number of interesting facts and figures that we outline below.
· The match in Kuala Lumpur was the only pre-season friendly that didn’t feature Leo Messi. The Argentine international had to pull out of the squad due to a left thigh strain. Despite this, Messi received many shouts of support from the local fans throughout the match.
· Neymar scored in both match in Asia. He opened the scoring in Bangkok in the 11th minute of the match against a Thailand XI and against the Malaysia XI he scored Barça’s second after a superb control of Cesc’s inch perfect assist.
· In the six matches played in the summer, Barça won four, drew one and lost one. They lost the opening match against Bayern Munich (2-0), scored a hatful against Valerenga (0-7) and drew against Lechia Gdansk (2-2). In the Joan Gamper trophy they crushed Santos 8-0.
· Despite missing the last match of the pre-season, Messi was the top scorer of the summer, scoring five goals in five matches.
· Cesc Fàbregas was one of the stars of the match against the Malaysia XI. He headed in the first goal and provided the assists for Barça’s other two goals scored by Neymar Jr and Piqué. However, a few minutes from the final whistle he had to leave the pitch with an ankle injury.
· Although Tata Martino insisted after the match that “we didn’t see the best version of the team ", the fact is that Barça dominated the game with an overwhelming share of possession: 81%. During the 90 minutes, Barça produced 22 shots on target.