Eight weeks after the heroic win at Wembley Barça returned to action tonight in Croatia with a 0-0 draw against Hajduk Split in our first preseason friendly of the 2011/2012 season. As is normal in these games we fielded two completely different teams for the two halves and there were quite a few not so familiar faces on show.
In the first half we lined up with Valdés, Dalmau, Armando, Fontás, Lobato; Thiago, Dos Santos, Keita; Carmona, Villa, Afellay. With such an inexperienced back four it was perhaps not surprising that Valdés had to make a couple of saves. David Villa was the most dangerous of the forwards and he came closest to a goal in the 17th minute when he fired against the base of the post from 25 yards. However, the best of the half came from Thiago Alcantara who showed a lot of involvement and made an excellent run and shot just before half time.
For the second half the team was Pinto; Belliu, Rosell, Abidal, Maxwell; Riverola, Busquets, Iniesta; Cuenca, Soriano, Jeffren. We dominated more mainly thanks to a good performance from Iniesta though our forwards failed to find the goal. With Busquets and Abidal playing we looked more solid at the back though Hajduk came close with a free kick that deflected off the top of the wall forcing Pinto into a fine save.
There is not a great deal to conclude from this except to say that it is clear that the youngsters understand the system well and despite the odd error they generally all fit in very easily. Of all the B team players on show today I liked Marti Riverola in midfield and new signing Cristian Lobato at left back. We seem to have an inexhaustible number of youngsters with a lot of talent though of course it is difficult to say if any of them will arrive to the level of Iniesta, Xavi or Messi.
Next up we play Porto Alegre in Munich on Tuesday. Another step in our preparation for the serious stuff which begins with the Spanish Supercopa against Real Madrid on August 14.