Barça won the 48th edition of the Trofeu Joan Gamper after a splendid 8-0 victory over the Brazilian side Santos. Goals from Messi, Alexis, Pedro, Fabregas (2), Adriano and Dongou plus an own goal from Santos defender Leo gave the 81,251 fans plenty to shout about on a warm muggy night in Barcelona but the only disappointment for Camp Nou faithful was the lack of a goal from new €57 million signing Neymar Jr.
This was Barça’s fourth pre-season match but the first with Tata Martino directing the team from the bench. It was also the first game with a full first team squad except for the injured Cristian Tello and Johnathan dos Santos. Martino started with the XI that had been Tito Vilanova’s strongest at the end of last season which meant that Neymar started on the bench. Presumably the idea is to show the Brazilian that he needs to earn his place in the team while offering the chance to Pedro and Alexis to stake their claim to a starting place this season.
Alexis started on the right with Pedro on the left and the two forwards were soon in action with a double combination which ended with Pedro shooting across the face of goal and wide. Before that Messi had headed the first chance of the game straight at Santos keeper Aranha but in the 8th minute the Argentinian opened the scoring. Xavi played a long crossfield pass to Pedro who controlled on his chest and cut inside before forcing the ball through to Messi who took the ball wide of Aranha before squeezing a left-footed shot back from a tight angle.
Barça went further ahead three minutes later. Messi found Alves in an advanced position on the right and when the Brazilian’s cross came in Santos defender Leo sliced the ball past his own keeper. An avalanche looked on the cards and Santos didn’t look capable of stopping it. In the 21st minute Alexis was quick to react to a long clearance and tip the ball inside to Messi, Alexis continued his run on Messi’s blind side but the Argentinian knew where the Chilean was and touched the ball on for Alexis to beat Aranha with a low shot into the corner.
The blaugrana attacks kept coming. A deep cross from Xavi found Alexis who had now switched to the left and Alexis’s head down was met by Iniesta with a sidefoot shot that went straight at the keeper. Then in the 29th minute Jordi Alba made an excellent overlap and when Alexis slipped the pass through, Alba’s low centre gave Pedro an easy tap-in from three yards.
Santos started with four players Dracena, Leo, Durval and Arouca who appeared the last time the two teams met in the 2011 Club World Cup Final but there was no place in the starting lineup for the three bright prospects Victor Andrade, Gabriel and Giva, who Barça have reportedly paid around €8 million in order to have preference over any future move to Europe. The only first half attempt on goal from the Brazilian team came with a hopeful long shot in the 35th minute from Galhardo that went well wide. At the other end Barça kept pushing for more but Aranha saved a Messi shot and a Messi header while Piqué on a foray forward lost control at the last minute.
Both teams made several half time substitutions and to be fair to the Brazilians Pinto had more work in the second half than Valdés had had in the first. However, it was still generally one-way traffic with Neymar now joining Messi and Alexis in attack. In the 53rd minute Alexis seemed to be dribbling himself into a hole but he got a fortunate bounce and reacted quickly to slip a pass into Fabregas who beat Santos’s substitute keeper Vladimir with a low shot inside the near post.
Neymar was not looking as sharp as in the Confederations Cup and finding it difficult to get by the right back. Dongou came on for Messi then in the 68th minute Alexis found Neymar on the left and the Brazilian picked out Fabregas who drove a shot high into the net from the edge of the area to make it 6-0. Fabregas cracked a free kick against a post but then soon after Neymar took a short corner to Adriano who cut inside in typical fashion before curling a corker inside the far post that gave Vladimir no chance.
With Dani Nieto and Macky Frank Bagnack coming on for the final minutes it was the other B team player, Dongou, who grabbed the final goal of the night, tapping in Fabregas’s low cross at the far post. It was fitting that Barça kept a clean sheet on a night that both Valdés and Pinto wore the name of Ramallets on their shirts in memory of Barça’s goalkeeping legend who died on Tuesday. Pinto made the save of the night in the 78th minute to tip over from Henrique’s header. There was little seen from the three possible future signings though Giva played the second half while Victor Andrade and Gabriel came on near the end. Victor Andrade had time to pick up the only yellow card of the night for a clumsy lunge at Bartra. It completed a miserable night for Santos who were obviously not up for much of a fight though that shouldn’t take away from some of the brilliance of Barça’s play with particularly strong performances from Messi, Alexis, Fabregas, Alves and Mascherano.
Barça: Valdés (Pinto h/t); Alves (Montoya h/t), Piqué (Bartrá h/t), Mascherano (Bagnack m77), Alba (Adriano h/t); Xavi (Fabregas h/t), Busquets (Song h/t), Iniesta (Sergi Roberto h/t); Alexis (Dani Nieto m72), Messi (Dongou m63), Pedro (Neymar h/t).
Santos: Aranha (Vladimir h/t); Rafael Galhardo (Cicinho h/t)), Edu Dracena, Durval (Gustavo Henrique h/t), Leo (Mena h/t)); Arouca (Alan Santos m61), Cícero (Víctor Andrade m77), Leandrinho (Leo Cittadini h/t)), Montillo (Gabriel m77); Thiago Ribeiro (William Jose m35) (Pedro Castro mi77), Neilton (Giva h/t)).
Goals: m8 Messi 1-0, m11 Leo (o.g.) 2-0, m21 Alexis 3-0, m29 Pedro 4-0, m53 Fabregas 5-0, m68 Fabregas 6-0, m75 Adriano 7-0, m83 Dongou 8-0.
Yellow card: m81 Victor Andrade.