A goal in the very first minute from Roberto Soriano earned Sampdoria the 2012 Joan Gamper trophy on a hot humid night at Camp Nou. Sampdoria were invited to the tournament in memory of the 1992 Wembley final, and before the game the Wembley team were presented to the crowd along with the current first team players including Eric Abidal.
A big question has to be placed over the choice of date for this game. The Gamper should arrive when we have been starved of football for a few weeks and should offer the new signings and something resembling our strongest eleven. However, playing the game a day after our league opener and three days before the first Supercopa clash with Madrid meant that none of our key players featured except for David Villa who was given a much needed seventy minutes.
Even before any Barça player had touched the ball it was clear this was not the first team, from the kick off Sampdoria were allowed the room for a patient build-up which only ended with Marc Bartrá clearing the ball out of the penalty area and conceding a throw. Straight from the throw Sampdoria sent a cross into the area where Roberto Soriano found space between Bartrá and Fontás to send a diving header past Pinto with only 58 seconds on the clock.
Barça went through the motions and there were plenty of good little moments from B team players such as Sergi Roberto, Javi Espinosa, Carles Planas and Gerard Deulofeu. However, there are tiny details that still need to improve and the difference in class between the absent first-teamers and their younger counterparts was noticeable in the odd stray touch, a moment of poor positioning, a wayward pass and principally in the ability in one-on-one situations.
Tonight the most lively forward in the first half was Deulofeu who continually tried to take on the Sampdoria left back, we won quite a few corners this way a the youngster also got in a couple of dangerous crosses with no finisher and also once got past his man but his shot failed to find a gap between keeper Sergio Romero and the post.
Afellay had little luck in his attempts to get past Sampdoria’s defenders though just before half time he fired a shot from 25 yards that went narrowly over, and a minute later he led a breakaway, sprinting 40 yards with the ball before touching it right for Deulofeu who tried to take the ball round Romero but the keeper got his hand to the ball and gathered.
The second half was even duller than the first and of course had the typical substitutions from these games. Deulofeu had an early chance but failed to squeeze the ball under Romero from Espinosa’s pass, and then there was little of note until Pozzi got clean through for Sampdoria in the 63rd minute but with just Pinto to beat he sent his shot against the outside of the post. There was one penalty appeal after Villa collided with a defender. Near the end Camp Nou got a first view of two youngsters with enormous potential: Jean Marie Dongou and Alex Grimaldo, they had little time to show much but in years to come we may only remember this game for the appearance of these two.
In the end it was a poor game and a poor result but the main conclusion I would take is to choose a better date next year. The only positive is that the youngsters got to experience the Camp Nou atmosphere which they will of course have to be able to cope with if they are to make it at the top level.
I’d rather go back 24 hours and remember how good it felt after beating Real Sociedad, but now it is time to look forward to Thursday night and the eagerly-awaited Supercup first leg with Madrid. Bring it on!
Barça: Pinto (Oier m70); Montoya, Bartra, Fontas (Sergi Gomez m57), Planas (Grimaldo m84); S.Roberto (Patric m70), Dos Santos (Ilie m84), Espinosa (Lobato m70); Deulofeu, Afellay (Dongou m70), Villa (Juan Angel Roman m70).
Goal: 0-1 Soriano m1