FC Barcelona will be facing Chelsea, Vissel Kobe, Arsenal and Napoli (twice) in a preseason that gets under way this Sunday with the first medical checks. That’s five games on three different continents in 19 days as the teams revs its engines in preparation for the first competitive fixture, the mid-August Liga road trip to San Mamés, home of Athletic Club.
The first test of the summer is against Chelsea in Tokyo on July 23. The team will be making the long flight east three days before the game with the Londoners, who are back in the Champions League after failing to qualify last season. In fact the last game the Blues played in that competition was precisely against Barça in the round of sixteen of 2017/18.
Four day later, on July 27, Barça are back at it, this time in the Rakuten Cup, ebing held in Kobe, the city where our opponents Vissel are based, and whose squad includes three very good, old friends in Andrés Iniesta, David Villa and Sergi Samper.
Back in Catalonia, the team will have a few days to train on familiar territory in preparation for the Gamper Trophy at the Camp Nou on August 4, which this year brings Premier League outfit Arsenal to the stadium. The Gunners finished fifth last season and are once again playing Europa League football this term, and are a side that we last met in the Champions League in 2015/16, with blaugrana wins in both matches.
Then we’re off again, but this time in the other direction. Barça will be in the United States for back-to-back games with Napoli, a side we have never played in a competitive fixture. We’ll first be meeting the Serie A runners-up on August 7 in Miami and then there will be a rematch on August 10 in Michigan.
After that, it’s back to Europe, with just a few days before things really start in earnest with a trip to Bilbao to get our league title defence started. Bring it on!