A second half goal from Joan Roman earned Barça a 0-1 victory over Recreativo de Huelva tonight in Luis Enrique’s debut game in charge of the Blaugrana. The first pre-season game in preparation for the 2014/15 season proved to be far more significant for Barça B as 16 of the 23 Barça players on show tonight will start the season with Eusebio Sacristan. With the World Cup players all still on holiday the only first team players on show were Masip, Ter Stegen, Montoya, Bartra, Sergi Roberto, Afellay and Deulofeu.
Considering the players available and short amount of preparation time, the performance should be seen as positive, though more solid than brilliant. It seems that Luis Enrique has spent the week working on basics such as positioning especially when the team lost the ball which meant the team generally got players behind the ball and gave Recreativo very few opportunities. In fact Recre’s only dangerous shot flew over Ter Stegen’s bar just before Barça took the lead halfway through the second half. Barça’s dominance was seen in the 11-0 corner count rather than in goals or decent chances but the strikers will surely get sharper with a few more games.
Barça played a fairly standard 4-3-3 throughout, although the wingers, especially Adama and Dani Nieto in the first half, tended to drop a little deeper so it sometimes looked like a 4-1-4-1. But the general philosophy of possession football remains the same, the forward players looked to exchange positions while the centre-backs, especially Ie in the first half and Diagne in the second were allowed to take the ball forward when the opportunity was there.
The best of a disappointing first half came from the young Croatian Alen Halilovic who looked comfortable and quick on the ball in midfield. The 18-year-old showed a decent turn and good vision for a pass while also forcing the only tricky save in the first 45 minutes for Recre’s keeper Sotrés.
Barça looked better after the break with Deulofeu causing problems for Recre’s defence, and the goal came on the 66th minute after he skipped past two challenges before firing a 20-yard shot that Sotrés could only parry straight to Joan Roman who slotted in the rebound. Near the end a good run from Afellay opened a chance for Deulofeu on the right but after cutting inside Deulofeu was unlucky to see his shot bounce away off the crossbar.
Barça (1st half): Masip; Montoya, Ie, Bagnack, Grimaldo; Halilovic, Sergi Roberto, Babunski; Adama, Munir, Dani Nieto.
Barça (2nd half): Ter Stegen; Patric, Bartra, Diagne, Lucas; Camara, Samper, Afellay; Deulofeu, Sandro (Dongou m71), Joan Roman.
Goal: m66 Joan Roman 0-1.