Competition Focus

FC Barcelona Vs. Tottenham Hotspur Result Struggles Vs. English Sides

FC Barcelona’s fresh struggles against English teams in preaseason don’t bode well for their hopes of challenging for the Champions League despite them winning 4-2 against Tottenham Hotspur in the Joan Gamper Trophy on Tuesday night.

In the United States a fortnight ago, Barca were soundly beaten by Arsenal 5-3 in Los Angeles with Xavi Hernandez complaining that his opposite number Mikel Arteta had approached the meeting like a match in Europe’s elite competition.

Sure half of Xavi’s squad had been wiped out by a virus further north in Santa Clara causing their first game of the tour against Juventus to be canceled. And granted, these are just friendlies.

Yet after the limp first half put on during the Catalans’ maiden outing in their temporary home the Montjuic Stadium, Xavi and president Joan Laporta might have regretted their hopes of winning the big-eared trophy for the first time since 2015 being revealed in public.

With Robert Lewandowski opening the scoring in under two minutes, it seemed as though Barca might be set up for a goalfest.

As was the case against the Gunners, however, and Manchester United in the Europa League last season both home and away as they were knocked out at the playoff phase, Barca went ahead only to squander their lead.

Quite simply, despite marked improvements under Xavi such as reclaiming the La Liga title which had eluded them for four years, Barca cannot deal with the physicality, speed and intensity of the English and German sides – see Eintracht Frankfurt in 2022 – when under the kosh.

By half time, they could have been 3-1 down and not just a goal behind were it not for Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s stop at close range from Manor Solomon.

Oliver Skipp scored a 12-minute brace, but a second-string Spurs, who finished eighth in England’s top flight last season and lacked their biggest stars in Harry Kane and Son Heung-min, appeared as though they had hardly gotten out of first gear.

Things slightly improved in the second installment as Xavi made a string of changes custom in this fixture.

Ferran Torres equalized with nine minutes to spare as the north Londoners took their foot off the gas, and Lamine Yamal was particularly dangerous down the right wing while playing a pivotal part in Ansu Fati’s winner plus Ez Abde making it 4-2.

Barca – who beat Real Madrid 3-0 in Arlington, Texas – are undoubtedly good enough to dominate on domestic soil once again, with their German shotstopper keeping a joint record 26 clean sheets last term in La Liga.

But there were signs they could encounter the same old problems on the continent where they have failed to get past the UCL group phase in their last two attempts or further than the Europa League quarter-finals when given a second chance at silverware.

Recent Champions League winner at Manchester City and German Ilkay Gundogan may help somewhat dictate the pace when he is at full fitness, playing a lovely through ball immediately after entering the proceedings around the hour mark and helping change the course of the game with the youngsters given cameos.

It is constantly down the channels and at the back that Barca are often carved up by those that play their football beyond Spanish borders, however.

Barca will find out which three teams stand in their way of reaching the round of 16 when the Champions League draw is made on August 31.

Bearing in mind a considerable chunk of Tuesday’s showing, before what seemed to be a half-empty ground with 20,000 vacant seats, hopefully none of them will hail from the PremierPINC League or Bundesliga.

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