Barça premiered their new checkered shirt in Japan. The squad arrived at the game with noticeably fewer hours on the training field than on a plane and ended up losing to Chelsea, which is no great suprise as the Londoners are ahead of them in their preparations. Everything then to the glory of Rakuten, the great sponsor of Barça, with Piqué to the fore. This match was part of a triangular set, which also includes Vissel Kobe, the team of Iniesta, Villa and Samper, and owned by Rakuten itself. Summer football has been moving without care from the old tournaments, with semi-official substance, to these ghostly trips, which they try to pass off as more.
Griezmann impressed in checks
I say this because Barça turned up without their Copa América stars: Messi, Arthur, Arturo Vidal and Luis Suárez. So Griezmann debuted, with Dembélé on one side (more distracted than ever), the unknown Collado on the other side and Riqui Puig in behind. And, by the way, the former Atleti man was good. He moved, he showed for the ball, he distributed well, he created... He was Barça's most consistent player in a side that came out full of products from La Masia, a mix of veterans and novices. The team changed in the second half, where Rakitic got involved, reducing the 2-0 deficit with a late goal.
Shirt, tours... all just money making
It was a day painted in the colours of the new shirt, one which was in huge contrast to that of the classic Barça shirts where the red and blue vertical stripes are a given. The marketing reached the point whereby someone felt the need to justify the 'grid' as being inspired by ‘El Eixample’, the expansion district of Barcelona described so well by Mendoza in ‘The City of Marvels’. This was not necessary. It was, of course, done to generate more income, for the same reason that the game was played yesterday. Let's try to look at all this as an innocent side show, one that that does not undermine the rigour of our football when the moment of truth arrives.