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The first team squad brought a smile to the faces of the fans on Sunday with the traditional new year open door training session that took place for the first time ever at the Estadi Johan Cruyff.
As ever there was a festive atmosphere with the event coming on the eve of ‘Los Reyes Magos’, 6 January being the day when children in Spain and in other parts of the world received their presents.
The crowds came early to the Ciutat Esportiva with the young fans waiting to see the players arrive at the training ground ahead of the session. The queues to get into the stadium wound their way around the block with ever more fans making their way into the Estadi Johan Cruyff.
Once inside the newly inaugurated venue the 5,668 fans present produced a cacophony of noise to welcome the players as they made their way out on to the pitch. Scarves and placards abounded, many dedicated to Leo Messi and Ansu Fati.
A warm up to begin
As the session came the day after Barça’s 2-2 draw against Espanyol in the RCDE Stadium it was recovery in nature. With the exception of the injured Ter Stegen, Arthur and Dembélé, all the first team players took part along with Iñaki Peña, Chumi, Sarsanedas, Reis, Saverio, Carles Pérez and Ansu Fati from Barça B and Arnau Tenas form the U19 squad.
It was the first time that Ernesto Valverde’s squad had set foot on the pitch at the Estadi Johan Cruyff and they did so with the warmth of the fans watching all too evident. The warm up for the squad was followed by a short training match, all followed intently by the mainly young Barça followers in the stands and one 11 year old boy named Pol, watching from Vall d’Hebron hospital in Barcelona via the Robot Pol project.
With the players who were involved in the game against only taking part in the warm up, during the training match involving the rest of the squad the likes of Griezmann, Jordi Alba, De Jong and Arturo Vidal took the opportunity to take photographs and sign autographs with the fans at pitchside and those in the first few rows. Sergi Roberto even made his way to chat with Pol virtually via Robot Pol. The gifts kept coming as the squad ended the session by kicking footballs into the waiting crowd.
Junior, one of the debutantes in this festive tradition, looked almost as pleased as the fans in the crowd: “We like to see the fans happy and it is undoubtedly a day to remember for them.” Another new boy Antoine Griezmann added “it is an honour to be able to share our training session with the fans and it has given us a boost ahead of the Super Cup.” Ernesto Valverde’s squad travel to Saudi Arabia this week where on Thursday they will take on Atlético Madrid in the semi finals of the Spanish Super Cup.
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