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In July, FC Barcelona will travel just over 6,200km to New Jersey, in the USA, to begin a preseason tour of the country, which will take place in three cities with games against three of European football´s biggest clubs. The excitement surrounding Barça´s first visit to the United States in two years has become a feature of its preparations for a new season, with the Club taking in new countries and making new friends around the world. For many, the 21st century globetrotting of the modern game is a relatively new phenomenon. For FC Barcelona, however, it has been a familiar habit since its birth.
On 4 August 1928, FC Barcelona played their first game outside of Europe against a selection of Argentina´s best players in Buenos Aires. The match was followed by seven further games in the country, including a 4–0 loss to Liga Rosarina in Rosario, the city where, 59 years later, a certain Lionel Messi would be born!
Four years after their South American adventure, FC Barcelona travelled to Africa, taking part in seven fixtures in Algeria. Though Barcelona and Catalonia faced many political difficulties in this period preceding the Spanish Civil War, the visit to Africa was a success, with the side scoring 37 goals there. Barça concluded their visit to the continent with a win against the French side, Sochaux.
In June 1937, after the start of the Civil War, FC Barcelona travelled to Central and North American soil for a three-month tour, playing 10 games in Mexico and a further four in the United States. Due to the political upheaval back home, several players decided against returning to Barcelona, opting to stay in Mexico instead. It would be 16 years before Barça would play another game outside of Europe.
In both 1951 and 1952, Barça travelled to Morocco to take part in the Copa D´Espanya, losing both games in the quarterfinals of the competition. Then, in 1952, under the leadership of Ferdinand Daučík and the legendary striker, László Kubala, FCB would win their fifth La Liga title, along with the Copa del Generalísimo — now known as the Copa del Rey — the Copa Latina, the Copa Eva Duarte, and the Copa Martini Rossi.
On the back of this wave of success, the Club travelled again to South America, showcasing their record-breaking side in Venezuela for six games in 1953. The tour was repeated in 1957 and, along with sporadic games played in a number of South American countries — including Uruguay, Paraguay and Ecuador — Barça regularly visited the region in the summer months between 1953 and 1967.
In 1969, Barça again visited Morocco, playing in the Trofeu Mohamed V against Sao Paulo and Bayern Munich. After a friendly game on the continent in 1974, FC Barcelona wouldn´t again visit until 2007, when they played the reigning African champions, Al Alhy. The friendly game in Cairo, Egypt saw Cameroon legend Samuel Eto´o inspire Barça to a 4-0 victory.
The club´s last visit to Africa came later that month in Pretoria, South Africa, on 22 June, with a 2-1 Blaugrana win over Mamelodi Sundowns in front of 50,000 fans at the Loftus Stadium.
Whilst Africa remained a favorite destination of the Club, Barça still found time to return to South America, returning to the continent in 1981 after a 14-year absence. Aside from two matches played in Mexico in 2003 and 2006, as part of the Club´s U.S. tours, FC Barcelona haven´t played in South America since 1988, instead preferring to face teams from the region in the United States. Emerging global markets in football and political developments in the latter period of the 20th century have influenced the travel schedules of European clubs, with more and more new territories falling in love with the European game, thus creating more demand to see Barça play.
Perhaps the first significant visit to Asia game in the 2006 FIFA Club World Cup, held in Japan. Barça, after victory over Arsenal in the 2005/2006 Champions League final, represented Europe in the tournament hosted in the Japanese cities of Yokahama, Tokyo, and Toyota. Though FCB were able to come through their semifinal against Mexican opponents América, they were unable to beat Brazilian champions Internacional, losing 1-0 in the final. In later years, FC Barcelona would find more success in Asia, winning the 2009 edition of the competition in the United Arab Emirates and both the 2011 and 2015 tournaments in Asia.
FCB´s last match outside of Europe came in the final month of 2016, when the Club visited Qatar, where they beat Al-Ahli Saudi FC in a friendly, 5-3.
And in July of this year, FC Barcelona will again set sail to the New World, for three more games in front of their fans in the United States.
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