Last year when I was losing my mind in the middle of a 4 hour lecture on the Krebs Cycle Dr. Fong, a veritable reservoir of wisdom, looked up from where he was droning on and said “Ok everyone, take this moment and take a cleansing breath before we start the second half of lecture.” The more intense life gets, the more difficult it is to find time for a cleansing breath – but these are the times when it is most important.
This brings us to the annual Joan Gamper Trophy. Named after one of the founding members of the club who later became president, this glorified friendly is scheduled perfectly to be the cleansing breath the team needs early in the season. Sandwiched between an, unsurprisingly, ugly finish to the Spanish Super Cup with our eternal rivals and the upcoming European Super Cup against Porto; this is the perfect opportunity for the team to get some much needed match practice before they try to win their second real trophy of the season. When you consider the cancellation of last weekends Liga games this friendly couldn’t have come at a better time.
This will be the 46th iteration of the Gamper Trophy, with Barcelona winning 34 of the last 45. Before you write this trophy off as meaningless, Pep has won the trophy twice since he took over – and won the Champions League both of those years as well. It may not be perfectly predictive, but I’d rather not take any chances.
Expect to see Pep play around with his tactics and players in this match. Fabregas should get some time on the pitch to let him get comfortable with the team (as if he wasn’t already), but Sanchez has been nursing a knock and might have to sit this one out. Guardiola called up six players from the B team for the match tonight: Montoya, Bartra, Dos Santos, Sergi Roberto, Kiko Femenia, and Cuenca, so expect to see most of them on the pitch at some point. (Kari is so disappointed Carmona didn’t get called up she isn’t running a liveblog).
With coaches, presidents, and players from each club tripping over each other to praise the other team this should be a nice change from the morbo fallout that always seems to occur after we face a Mourinho-led team. So enjoy the cleansing breath- once La Liga starts it may be awhile before we get another one.
The match starts at 2:30 PM EST. Today.
Starting XI: Pinto – Montoya Pique Fontas Adriano – Cesc Keita Thiago – KikoFemenia Villa Iniesta
Bench: Valdes, Alves, Bartra, Abidal, Mascherano, Busquets, Dos Santos, Xavi, Sergi Roberto, Cuenca, Messi, Pedro