Vissel Kobe will be FC Barcelona’s first opponents during the 2019 summer tour of Japan. The game will be a special one, as former Barça captain and club legend Andrés Iniesta plays for the Japanese team, for whom he signed last summer after 22 years and 32 trophies at the Camp Nou. It will be the first time that Iniesta will play against FC Barcelona.
Iniesta will not be the only former Barça player in action, however. David Villa, who won 8 trophies during his four seasons at the club (2010-2014) and Sergi Samper, who left FC Barcelona this past February, are also on the books at Vissel Kobe.
The Japanese team have started the season well and are currently seventh in the league. Coached by Takayuki Yoshida, Vissel Kobe combine youth with experience in their squad. In addition to the former Barça players, the club also have a star name up front in the form of ex-Bayern Munich striker Lucas Podolski.
Vissel Kobe were founded in 1966, and have been regulars in the J1 League besides some sporadic years in the Japanese second tier. Sponsored by Rakuten from 2004, in 2014 they were bought by Rakuten - now sponsors of FC Barcelona - ahead of their latest return to the top flight. In 2018 they finished 10th in the J1 League.