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Luis Enrique, at the Ciutat Esportiva / PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB

On Monday Barça travel to St. George's Park, in England, for six days, to continue preparing for the season to come, which starts on August 24 or 23. Before travelling to England, Luis Enrique made a general assessment of the early days of working with the squad, and the upcoming friendly games facing the team. After the Nuevo Colombino Trophy win against Recreativo Huelva (0-1), Barça will play their next preseason game on Saturday 2nd of August, in Nice at 8.45 p.m., against local side OGC Nice.

After a few days training, Luis Enrique has established clear objectives for preseason. "At the start the objectives have a clear vital physical component, but we do most exercises with the ball" he said. On the work planning of the coaching staff at the beginning of this season, Luis Enrique explained that "it’s not a typical preseason because there is no preseason tour", and added: "In training we try to work on all things that might crop up in a competitive match".

The coach also discussed the next three friendly matches the team that will face away from Barcelona, before playing the Joan Gamper Trophy at the Camp Nou on August 18th. OGC Nice, SSC Napoli and HJK Helsinki are Barca’s rivals at the beginning of August

Nice

Barca’s next match is in Nice on Saturday August 2nd and will end the six-day trip. The 26 players in the squad will be facing local side OGC as the preseason continues. "Their league season is really close, so they’ll make it a high-tempo match. The demand on our players will be pretty high" said Luis Enrique. In this game, the coach will be able to include the eight internationals who returned at the beginning of the week (Pique, Jordi Alba, Sergio, Xavi, Iniesta, Pedro, Rakitic and Song), plus the latest signing, Jérémy Mathieu.

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Geneva

The next Barça opponent is one of the top teams in the Italian Serie A. Napoli and Barça will face each other in Geneva on 6th of August. "This Napoli team has a lot of Spanish influence, managed by Rafa Benitez. In recent years they have strengthened the squad and are one of the favourites to win the Scudetto, a clear incentive for us" said Luis Enrique.

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Helsinki

Barca's last match before the Joan Gamper Trophy, which they will play against the Mexican outfit, Club Leon, will be against HJK Helsinki in the Finnish capital. As for this match, the Barça coach said: "There’ll be a lot of excitement to watch us there. They sold out very quickly", and added "The ambassador for the match is my old teammate, Litmanen". Finally, Luis Enrique summarised the objectives of this and the rest of the pre-season friendlies: "They’ll all serve us well so we’ll be in good shape for the season to come".

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