There will be a mini-Barcelona reunion on Saturday in Japan as Barcelona faces Vissel Kobe in a preseason club friendly. Vissel Kobe has three former Barcelona players on the roster, and the Blaugrana are looking forward to squaring off against their former teammates on the pitch. This will be Barca’s last game in Japan before heading back to Europe.
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- Barcelona vs. Vissel Kobe
- Date and Time: July 27, 2019, 5 a.m. ET
- Location: Noevir Stadium Kobe, Misaki Park, Japan
- US Television Coverage: ESPN
- Betting Line: Check Back Later
On Tuesday, Barcelona took on Chelsea in Saitama, Japan, giving local fans a rare glimpse at seeing their international heroes up close and personal. Chelsea ended up securing a 2-1 victory, but Barca fans weren’t too dismayed. It was their first chance to see Antoine Griezmann wear Blaugrana colors, and he looked exceptional in the first half.
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Some had worries over whether or not Griezmann would be able to adjust to Barcelona’s style. He had spent four seasons with defensive-minded Diego Simeone at Atletico Madrid, and a few critics believed he would struggle to adapt to a more free-flowing game. In 45 minutes, he reminded everyone of his immense talent, dashing and darting and creating problems for Chelsea’s defense. It’s the same style he is accustomed to with the French national team, so he looks ready to go once the season gets underway.
Although Barca allowed two goals against Chelsea, their back line largely played well. Nelson Semedo was sharp on the outside, and both Samuel Umtiti and Clement Lenglet were stoic in the interior. However, there were some concerns with a few players too.
Sergio Busquets just didn’t have it on Tuesday, and a poor pass led to the game’s first goal. Afterwards, he was voted the worst performing player of the match by Marca, and Barca don’t want to see that from their veteran defender again.
Gerard Pique had some trouble dealing with Chelsea’s speedier players, but that’s to be expected from a 32-year-old center back. Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s play was a bit more of a worry though. It seems like every time the goalkeeper is on the cusp of being considered elite, he takes a step back, and we saw that on display against Chelsea. He was not confident when challenging balls, so this preseason prep will be good for him.
Back to the good news, youngster Riqui Puig shined for Barca, and it’s becoming apparent that a place must be made for the teenage midfielder. He is simply too much of a weapon to remain a reserve.
Ivan Rakitic ended up with Barca’s lone goal in the game on some beautiful play, and the club hope to see more of that here.
Vissel Kobe Preview
Andres Iniesta, David Villa, and Sergi Samper have all made the move to Vissel Kobe in the last two years and seeing those players once more should bring a smile to the faces of Blaugrana fans worldwide. Iniesta is a club legend after playing 442 games for the club between 2002 and 2018, and there are fond memories of both Villa and Samper too. Another name familiar to international fans is Lukas Podolski, but he has been out for the last two months.
Neither Lionel Messi nor Luis Suarez will take part in this Soccer match for the Blaugrana. Messi and Suarez both left the club to take part in Copa America shortly after the end of the club season, so management has given the duo a bit more time off to make up for the extra work. They are expected to join the club when they come back to Europe later in the preseason.
Soccer Match Prediction
There will be plenty of applause and smiles in this exhibition between former and current club legends, but Barca’s youth and depth will be decisive.
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