Barcelona and Arsenal display improved performances in Joan Gamper Trophy

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Barcelona defeated Arsenal 2-1 in the Joan Gamper Trophy after Luis Suarez came off the bench to score at the death with a spectacular, acrobatic finish.

The visitors drew first blood courtesy of a Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang strike in the first half. Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Bernd Leno then got confused as the former put the ball in the back of his own net in the second half to restore parity.

We take a look at some of the talking points from the first and only pre-season friendly at the Camp Nou.

Riqui Puig deserves a promotion

Riqui Puig

Riqui Puig shone for Barca.

Praise dedicated to the talented midfielder from the Barca B team are getting extremely repetitive now but he has earned every single compliment that has come his way.

The youngster was at the heart of most of the attacks in the first half and produced a couple of eye-catching, defence-splitting deliveries to Antoine Griezmann and Frenkie de Jong.

It’s worth noting that he was heavily involved in the entire game and enjoyed a huge chunk of possession in midfield. This indicates that the players around him have identified Puig as a reliable passing outlet who is capable of producing threatening moments.

Such a talented player must not be wasted in the third division. Barcelona must strongly consider promoting him or at least loaning him to a team playing in the Spanish first division.

Solid defensive performance by Arsenal

Although Barcelona emerged victorious, Arsenal’s defence put on a solid show in ensuring that total carnage did not reign.

Barca’s first goal was an own goal caused due to miscommunication and the second was an extremely well-taken scissor kick that could not have been saved.

The Gunners were resilient in times of high pressure in both halves. Calum Chambers was the stand-out player who intercepted and cleared several threatening balls into the final third.

Unai Emery should be satisfied with his team’s defensive performance despite defeat.

Barcelona display signs of improvement in midfield

The win was marginal and not pretty. But the Spanish giants can be satisfied after what was probably their best performance of the pre-season so far.

The midfield looked livelier than usual with all six players who played a part making a solid impact.

Ivan Rakitic was more progressive than usual while De Jong dropped a habitual master-class that earned him the man of the match award.

Sergio Busquets had an error-free game and Carles Alena showed confidence and purpose with his passes.

The midfield has always been an Achilles heel for Barcelona after Xavi’s departure and there were signs that it could be sorted soon.

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Riqui Puig

Barcelona‘s only pre-season game at the Camp Nou ended in a 2-1 win over Arsenal, with substitute Luis Suarez scoring the winner in the death in a closely fought game.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang opened the scoring in the first half and an own-goal from Ainsley Maitland-Niles restored parity in the second half.

This was arguably Barcelona’s best performance in their pre-season. We take a look at how each player performed in their first game at Camp Nou this season.

BARCELONA (4-3-3)

Neto – Froze like a deer in front of headlights the only time he was called into action. Ccould have positioned himself better to prevent Aubameyang from scoring. 5

Nelson Semedo – Best player from Barcelona’s back-line, solid in defence and provided width. 8

Gerard Pique – Should have done better to intercept Ozil’s pass to Aubameyang that led to Arsenal’s goal. 5

Samuel Umtiti – Caught out of possession a couple of times but had several moments of good, clean display. 6

Jordi Alba – Couple of good deliveries but a sub-par game in defence to his high standards, left huge amounts of space on the left at times. 5

Ivan Rakitic – Did a great job in distributing the ball across the width of the pitch, produced a couple of great defence-splitting balls. 7

Frenkie de Jong – Maintained tempo in midfield, did what was required from him; nothing more, nothing less. 7

Riqui Puig – Arguably Barcelona’s best player. Ran the show in midfield, created a couple of good chances and was a treat to the eyes. 9

Carles Perez – Failed to match the intensity that he showed in the other pre-season games, linked up well with the midfielders nonetheless. 6

Antoine Griezmann – Failed to play at the level he did in the other games, hesitated to take a shot at times and lacked intensity. 6

Ousmane Dembele – Another frustrating display from the youngster, gave the ball away frequently and displayed questionable decision-making. 5

Substitutes

Luis Suarez – Persistence bore fruit, scored an acrobatic goal to seal the Gamper Trophy for Barcelona. 8

Carles Alena – Further proof that Barcelona’s midfield is secure for some time now, confident passing at the face of a high press. 7

Moussa Wague – Justified his promotion with a good game at right-back filled with good deliveries in attack and strong tackles in defence. 7

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Junior Firpo

Junior Firpo has been tipped to make a big impact at Barcelona as the Real Betis left-back closes in on a switch to the Camp Nou.

Reports in Spain have claimed a €25 million transfer has been struck and the Dominican is reportedly set to sign a five-year contract.

And speaking to Catalunya Radio (h/t Mundo Deportivo) Junior’s former boss Quique Setien delivered a glowing report of Barca’s imminent signing.

“Barca have made a good deal. It’s a boy with enormous potential, youth, desire, excitement and quality. He’s worth the gamble,” he said.

“He will make progress at Barca because he has the desire and potential for growth.

“He has some qualities to polish, and good things that will come in handy. In the last year and a half he’s been progressing and improving concepts.

“Jordi Alba is one of the best left-backs in the world. The competition from Junior will do him well, and Junior doesn’t have Alba’s experience.

“In a few occasions we did use him as a center-back, but he is more comfortable and has a more daring disposition as a left-back. We missed him when he was injured. I hope he succeeds. I’ll be happy for him.”

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