Watch Barcelona icon Andres Iniesta make his first start in Japan for Vissel Kobe

David Cooper 29/07/2018
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Barcelona and Spain icon Andres Iniesta made his first start for new club Vissel Kobe as they beat Kashiwa Reysol 1-0 in J1 League.

Iniesta, who came off the bench in Kobe’s 3-0 loss to Shonan Bellmare a week ago, shot wide in the 15th minute from the edge of the penalty box.

His legendary creative skills saw a chance for a team-mate served up seven minutes later. But it was left to Asahi Masuyama to score the winner in the 66th as Kobe moved up to fourth in the table.

Watch Iniesta’s highlights below.

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Carles Alena among Barcelona youngsters set for first team action

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Barcelona pride themselves on the development of their youth products and are always keen to give La Masia graduates opportunities in the first team.

The upcoming season should be no different and with manager Ernesto Valverde getting rid of a few fringe players, there are opportunities for some of the club’s youngsters to make the step up.

CARLES ALENA

Having already made seven appearances for the senior team, scoring one goal, Carles Alena is nailed on to see more playing time this season. Such is the faith in the central midfielder’s potential that the club tied him down with a three-year contract last season which includes a buyout clause of €75 million.

Philippe Coutinho and new signing Arthur will be tasked with filling the void left by Andres Iniesta’s departure but Alena is more than capable of supporting them. The Spaniard joined La Masia at the age of seven and made his debut for the senior team in November 2016 during a Copa del Rey clash against Hercules, marking the occasion with a goal.

The creative midfielder who is known for his supreme technique and eye for goal is primed to take the next step.

Carles Alena

Carles Alena

MARC CUCURELLA

Jordi Alba has been a mainstay in the first XI since 2012 and at 29, the marauding full-back’s shuttling up and down that left flank is bound to catch up to him. The Spaniard needs to be afforded more of a break over the course of the season and with Barcelona on the brink of selling Lucas Digne to Everton, it opens the door for Marc Cucurella to get more first team opportunities.

Incidentally, the 20-year-old also moved to Barcelona in 2012, switching from Espanyol’s youth team. He’s been long considered Alba’s natural successor, boasting the same turn of pace and attacking instincts as his compatriot. Cucurella made his debut for the first team last October when he replaced the injured Digne during a Copa del Rey win against Real Murcia.

MUNIR

Munir first appeared in the first team back in 2014 and made 26 appearances during the 2015/16 season, scoring eight goals. However, he has struggled to establish himself as a first team regular and was sent out on loan in the previous two campaigns.

A healthy return of 14 goals in 36 appearances for Alaves last season though has put him back in contention for more opportunities in the first team.

The 22-year-old can play anywhere across the forward line and with Paco Alcacer appearing to have one foot out the door, Munir could well prove to be a key player off the bench as he is reportedly staying at the Nou Camp.

Munir

Munir

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Live Barcelona Blog: Munir El Haddadi receives shock chance to stay at expense of Paco Alcacer

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Welcome to today’s Barcelona blog. Tyrone Bell and the rest of the Sport360 team will be with you throughout the day with the latest news, rumours and insights from the Camp Nou.

Our daily blog will ensure you have all the latest updates throughout the week but we want you to get involved, too.

Tell us your thoughts on what’s happening by tweeting @Sport360.

21:30 – Munir’s big moment

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Fresh start: Munir El Haddadi on loan at Alaves last season.

Munir El Haddadi’s future at Barcelona has taken a fresh twist amid reports that head coach Ernesto Valverde has surprisingly decided to retain his services and cash in on €30 million-rated (Dh128.6m) forward Paco Alcacer.

Read all the details here.

20:10 – Lenglet is raring to go

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New colours: Clement Lenglet.

New Barcelona signing Clement Lenglet has promised the club he is “getting better and better” and is ready to make the step-up from Sevilla.

“I was ready to come and play for Barcelona and every day I’m still getting better and better,” he said.

Read the full quotes here

14:20 – Blaugrana set to spend more in transfer market

Looking to strengthen further: Ernesto Valverde.

Barcelona‘s summer of spending is far from over, Ernesto Valverde has claimed during their pre-season tour stateside.

Read more, here.

13:20pm – Barcelona eyeing shock swoop for Hammer starlet

Domingos Quina featured on a handful of occasions last season.

Hot prospect: Domingos Quina.

Barcelona are set to hold talks with West Ham over the transfer of the Hammers’ young winger Domingos Quina, Sky Sports reports.

Read more, here.

12:12pm – Digne close to Everton move

Everton are close to completing a deal for Barcelona defender Lucas Digne, the Liverpool Echo reports.

Lucas Digne has been an Everton target all summer.

Lucas Digne has been an Everton target all summer.

Read more, here.

11:25am – Barcelona track Gunners target N’Zonzi

Steven N’Zonzi was part of France’s World Cup-winning team.

Barcelona have made a late move to sign Sevilla star Steven N’Zonzi from under the noses of Arsenal.

Read more, here.

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