Why are Barcelona and Manchester Metropolis taking part in a pleasant at Camp Nou three weeks into the season?

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Pep Guardiola returns to Camp Nou on Wednesday as his Premier League champions Manchester City tackle LaLiga giants Barcelona in a pleasant match regardless of each golf equipment having kicked off their 2022-23 seasons weeks in the past.

Metropolis are three matches into the title defence they started on Aug. 7, having misplaced to Liverpool at Wembley within the Group Defend eight days beforehand on July 30, whereas Barca will play their third sport of the season on Sunday in opposition to Real Valladolid (stream LIVE at 1:30 p.m. ET on ESPN+ in the U.S.). And earlier than that, both clubs travelled to the United States for their preseason tours, racking up six video games between them throughout the Atlantic final month.

However they’ve nonetheless discovered time of their schedules to play in Wednesday’s match, which is for a worthy trigger that’s near Guardiola’s coronary heart in addition to all these concerned with Barca.

Loads has modified since Metropolis final performed at Barcelona, the place Guardiola gained two Champions Leagues amongst 14 trophies throughout his wonderful 4 years in cost from 2008-2012. On that event, in 2016, Lionel Messi struck a hat trick and Neymar added a late fourth after Metropolis goalkeeper Claudio Bravo was despatched off early within the second half in a Champions League group-stage sport.

The golf equipment’ trajectories have gone in reverse instructions since then. Metropolis have gotten higher and higher underneath former Barca coach Guardiola, profitable the Premier League in 4 of the previous 5 seasons, though European success nonetheless eludes them.

Barca, in the meantime, have misplaced Messi and Neymar, racked up greater than €1 billion in debt and fallen away from Europe’s high tier of golf equipment, profitable only one Copa del Rey through the previous three seasons. There may be hope, although, after a summer season of extra spending, that they are able to reassert themselves as one of many continent’s finest sides — particularly underneath coach Xavi Hernandez, Guardiola’s protege, who will likely be dealing with his mentor within the dugout for the primary time.

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– O’Hanlon: What’s wrong with Man City this season? (E+)

Why are Barcelona and Man Metropolis taking part in this match?

This pleasant was initially scheduled to happen final 12 months, however it was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. The attendance would have been capped at 30,000, per native authorities restrictions on the time, and the golf equipment needed the sport to be performed in a full stadium — Camp Nou holds nearly 100,000.

That is as a result of the cash raised from the sport will go in the direction of analysis into amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) within the identify of Juan Carlos Unzue, who was identified with the situation initially of 2020.

Barca and Metropolis had seemed for a date in preseason, however summer season excursions overseas took priority and it proved inconceivable to discover a day that labored for each groups. Subsequently, they reached the marginally uncommon determination to carry the match this Wednesday, although either side have already began their home seasons.

Who’s Juan Carlos Unzue?

Unzue is a former goalkeeper turned coach who spent most of his profession at Sevilla. He additionally has robust hyperlinks with Barcelona, the place he was the membership’s backup goalkeeper between 1988 and 1990, though it’s as a coach that he’s most famed at Camp Nou. He turned the goalkeeping coach for Frank Rijkaard’s Barca upon retirement and maintained that place underneath Guardiola.

He later tried his luck as supervisor at Numancia and Racing Santander earlier than turning into Luis Enrique’s assistant at Celta Vigo in 2013. He adopted Luis Enrique to Barca a 12 months later, the place they went on to win the Treble in 2015.

Following spells accountable for Celta and Girona, he was identified with ALS in 2020, which is the commonest type of motor neurone illness.

Unzue, not often seen with no smile and now in a wheelchair, has been elevating cash to fund ALS analysis and Barca needed to play a task in that fundraising. Metropolis, coached by Unzue’s good friend Guardiola, had been an apparent opponent and in addition a glamorous one by way of producing curiosity.

Why are Barcelona the one membership to usually play friendlies through the season?

Barca have developed a behavior of taking part in friendlies at awkward instances, though it’s normally to learn their very own coffers moderately than to boost cash for charity.

They ended final season with a visit to Australia to play an A-League All-Stars team in Sydney. That fixture was reportedly worth €5 million to the Catalan membership.

In December 2021, they travelled to Saudi Arabia to face Napoli within the Diego Maradona Cup, after the loss of life of the Argentine ahead the earlier 12 months. Two golf equipment the place he spent extra time than Barca, Argentinos Juniors and Boca Juniors, didn’t get an invitation. It was one other cash spinner for the Catalan membership.

In 2018, simply earlier than the top of the season, Barca additionally organised a visit to South Africa to play Mamelodi Sundowns. Many nonetheless blame that fixture for costing Ernesto Valverde’s aspect an unbeaten season. Simply three days earlier, they misplaced their penultimate sport of the season, which was their solely defeat in that marketing campaign, 5-4 to Levante. The approaching journey and contract stipulations about sure gamers having to play in South Africa was mentioned to have been a distraction.

Barca additionally host the Joan Gamper Trophy yearly at Camp Nou, though that fixture comes the week earlier than the beginning of the brand new marketing campaign. Pumas UNAM, Juventus, Elche, Arsenal, Boca Juniors and Chapecoense are current company.



Pep Guardiola feels Erling Haaland has loads of room to get even higher in his time at Manchester Metropolis.

Will this impression the groups’ begins to the season?

Barca have a bloated squad so Xavi could view this sport favourably. It represents an opportunity to provide extra minutes to new signings Franck Kessie and Raphinha, who had been each substitutes within the weekend win at Real Sociedad, and Jules Kounde, who is not yet registered to play in LaLiga because of the spending cap imposed by the league.

Xavi might also take the prospect to provide some taking part in time to Gerard Pique, Sergi Roberto, Miralem Pjanic and different gamers who haven’t featured usually within the two LaLiga video games performed so far.

The actual fact it’s performed at Camp Nou can also be a optimistic, because it means no midweek travelling forward of Real Valladolid‘s go to on Sunday.

Guardiola could not have such a optimistic view on proceedings. Metropolis had an inexperienced bench as they had been held 3-3 by Newcastle United on Sunday, though they had been nonetheless in a position to pass over gamers of the ilk of Riyad Mahrez and summer season signing Kalvin Phillips.

Like Xavi, then, Guardiola is more likely to benefit from this fixture to get a greater have a look at Phillips, Julian Alvarez and new signing Sergio Gomez, a Barcelona academy product.

Talking on the presentation of the sport again in June, Guardiola mentioned he would subject a robust aspect and Metropolis arrived in Girona, simply north of Barcelona, with all of their star gamers on Sunday.

Loads of focus will fall on Metropolis midfielder Bernardo Silva. Barca have made no secret of their need to signal the participant — president Joan Laporta even made a joke of it at that presentation in June — however he will likely be sporting Metropolis blue on Wednesday. Regardless of the Portugal worldwide telling ESPN’s Rob Dawson earlier this month that his future is uncertain, Metropolis say he’s not more likely to go away in the summertime switch window and Barca’s monetary place suggests they could not even have the ability to take a look at Metropolis’s stance.

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