Barcelona took on Tottenham Hotspur on Tuesday night in their traditional curtain raiser of the season – the Joan Gamper Trophy.
With two of Europe’s elite taking to the field, the clash did not disappoint. Barcelona took the early lead against Spurs’ but were pinned back relatively quickly by a brace from Oliver Skipp.
Tottenham dominated the game for the most part, pressing high and creating chances down the wings with relative ease. However, a late turnaround from the hosts saw them complete an improbable comeback and win the Joan Gamper Trophy.
Barça Universal brings you three talking points from Barcelona 4-2 Tottenham Hotspur.
A taste of home
Tuesday night’s clash at Estadi Olimpic Lluis Companys was a first on multiple fronts.
For starters, the Joan Gamper match marked the official beginning of Barcelona’s 2023-24 campaign in Spain. It gave the new signings a first look at home support and was a night marked by celebration.
Most importantly, however, it was the night when the team got its first taste of new home soil.
The Spotify Camp Nou has become synonymous with Barcelona over the years. Its unique architecture, historical significance and endless memories on its turf make it irreplaceable for the Catalans.
The stadium, however, is currently under massive renovation. It will bear a new look once the Espai Barça project is completed, although it will still be the same old stadium for the players.
In the meantime, Barcelona are forced to find a home away from home. The Lluis Companys Stadium will be their foster fortress at least for the next season, and Tuesday’s game gave the players a first taste of its soil.
Last night in Montjuic, the Catalans enjoyed the support of 35,222 fans. While the attendance was thin given the novel location, one can expect crowd to slowly flock to the stands as the season progresses.
The Blaugranas could not have asked for a better game to kick off a new era in the club’s history. Their comeback win over Spurs is a statement of intent that they will make the Olympic stadium their fortress.
Defensive worries for Xavi?
Barcelona started strong on the night, scoring in the third minute via a lethal Robert Lewandowski finish. However, an unfortunate incident in the 30th minute turned the tide and altered the dynamics of the game.
Ronald Araujo went down in discomfort at the half-hour mark on the night and asked to be substituted immediately. Xavi immediately called on Sergi Roberto to take over duties, but it was clear that the defence suffered a big blow with the Uruguayan’s withdrawal.
The manager confirmed in his post-match press conference that Araujo was not injured and only had discomfort. Yet, it is difficult for one to not be worried looking at the Blaugranas’ defensive unit.
Barcelona lost Andreas Christensen to a similar discomfort in El Clasico on the US tour. The Dane did not feature last night and not much is known about his recovery.
Moreover, Inigo Martinez is nursing an injury himself and will not be available for a few weeks. With the La Liga opener less than a week away, Xavi has three centre-backs on the treatment table.
Last season, Barcelona suffered a group-stage elimination from the UEFA Champions League owing to concurrent injuries in defence. It will thus be the manager’s priority to fix the central defence ahead of the league opener and manage their fitness adequately.
The magic of La Masia
With ten minutes left on the clock, Barcelona were a goal down against their Premier League opposition last night. The Catalans were underwhelming until that point despite having their best players and biggest names on the field, and it is fair to say that Spurs deserved the win.
What unfolded in the final ten minutes at Montjuic was nothing short of spell-binding. Xavi Hernandez called on Fermin Lopez and Lamine Yamal, and the rest is history.
Yamal, at 16 years of age, was perhaps Barcelona’s best player on the night in his ten-minute cameo. Just four touches after his arrival, he linked up with Ferran Torres to set up the equaliser on the night.
In the 91st minute, the teenager left Sergio Reguilon paralysed on the field with his quick feet as he set up Ansu Fati’s goal with a lovely combination with Ferran Torres. 120 seconds later, it was again Yamal who bamboozled Spurs’ defence for the fourth on the night.
While the 16-year-old was spectacular in his own right, one must not take away anything from the other La Masia stars on the night. After all, Barcelona’s fourth goal was engineered by Fermin Lopez after Yamal’s trickery on the wing.
The team’s four youngsters – Fati, Yamal, Lopez and Ez Abde were the biggest stars at Montjuic. Xavi will continue to have a preference for the bigger names heading into the season, but their performance clearly shows that they are ready for the big stage.