17 September 2020 02:33
Barcelona have won their second preseason friendly of the week thanks to a 3-1 victory over Girona at the Estadi Johan Cruyff. The Blaugrana played an older, slower team for 60 minutes that scored the goals and a young, exciting squad that gave us the entertainment in the final 30. Not unlike the first half of the first preseason game, Barça had a rather slow team on the pitch and without much speed or movement in the final third the Blaugrana were predictable and uncreative in the final third, but they still created chances against the Girona defense thanks to good runs from the full-backs. Barça took the lead after some really good pressing up the pitch, a genius pass from Messi and a tap-in for Coutinho. The rest of the half featured a lot of passing and not much else from the home team, but they did find a second goal thanks to a great long distance strike from Messi with his weaker right foot.
Girona had their moments with the ball, but the Barça defense managed to avoid any trouble thanks to an impressive performance by Ronald Araujo, who used his pace to destroy every promising attack by the visitors. At halftime, Barça were in control and had a two-goal lead, but they weren't very exciting to watch. The start of the second half was very busy with two goals in the first six minutes: first it was Samu Sáiz who scored for Girona after a bad mistake from Frenkie De Jong, but Messi quickly restored Barça's two-goal lead with a shot from distance that deflected off Ramalho and went in. At the 60-minute mark Koeman made nine changes, introducing a second half lineup full of youth, speed, energy and creativity, and Barça instantly looked more dangerous and exciting and the Girona defense, which looked well organized in the first half, was quickly exposed by smart passing and timely runs by the Barça front six. Konrad, Pedri and Dembélé were a terror with their pace and skill, and the trio created chance after chance requiring the Girona defense to make some desperate, last-ditch tackles and blocks to stop Barça from scoring another goal or two.
Samu Saiz scored for Girona right at the start of the second period but Barca's captain struck again in the 50th minute, also cutting inside to shoot from outside the area but this time benefiting from a heavy deflection. Koeman made four changes to the lineup that had beaten Gimnastic de Tarragona 3-1 in his first game on Saturday and made nine substitutions midway through the second half, only keeping on defender Ronald Araujo and goalkeeper Neto. Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman, right, congratulates Lionel Messi as he is subbed off during a friendly against Girona. This was a more fluid and exciting display than against Gimnastic, with Messi looking sharper and Portuguese Trincao showing confidence and flair every time he got on the ball. Teenager Pedri was Barca's liveliest substitute and had three attempts on goal after coming on, forcing Girona keeper Jose Suarez to make two smart saves, while American forward Konrad de la Fuente also impressed. Barca play promoted La Liga side Elche in their final preseason game on Saturday before beginning their league campaign the following weekend at home to Villarreal. BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Lionel Messi scored his first goals of Barcelona's preseason as coach Ronald Koeman left Luis Suárez and Arturo Vidal off his team for a second friendly match on Wednesday. Messi netted two goals and set up one more in a 3-1 victory over second-tier Girona, Barcelona's second training match since Koeman took over as coach. The goals were also Messi's first since his failed attempt to leave the club this offseason, following a trophy-less season and the humiliating 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarterfinals. Messi told the club he wanted to leave, only to change his mind after Barcelona refused to allow him to go. Barcelona posted a photo on Twitter of Messi and Koeman clasping hands when the star forward was substituted along with most of his teammates with half an hour to go. Barcelona is trying to find new homes for Suárez and Vidal, two players who at 33 years old do not fit into Koeman's plans to rejuvenate the team. Koeman even left the door open to Suárez staying when the coach spoke after Wednesday's victory. "If Suárez ends up staying, he will be treated like any other member of this team," Koeman said. Girona offered little resistance to Barcelona's attack, formed by new signing Francisco Trincão, Philippe Coutinho, Antoine Griezmann and Messi. Messi's perfectly placed pass sent Trincão clear for the Portugal forward to square the ball to Coutinho, who only had to scoop in the 20th-minute opener. Messi doubled the lead in the 45th with a shot from outside the area that went in off the upright. Samuel Saiz got Girona on the scoreboard after halftime before Messi got his brace with a shot that took a deflection off a defender to fool the Girona goalkeeper. Koeman said he was pleased with his young players, above all with American 19-year-old Konrad de la Fuente, who came on as a substitute four days after he made his debut in the friendly against Tarragona last weekend. "If I have to pick one young player to single out, I will go with Konrad," Koeman said. Koeman will have one more warm-up match against Elche on Saturday before Barcelona starts the Spanish league season against Villarreal on Sept.