Barcelona president Joan Laporta’s infectious enthusiasm persuaded 56,000 fans to attend Robert Lewandowski’s unveiling on Friday - and on Sunday, a little over that number turned out for the Trofeo Gamper. It was a happy night to be a Culé. As Santi Giménez noted in AS pre-match, the atmosphere around the clash was reminiscent of the Gampers of yesteryear, when the supporters made their way to the stadium excited to get their first glimpse of the new faces. This year, there are so many that the fans’ curiosity hadn’t been sated by watching the US tour games on TV. The anticipation was palpable when the players were presented one by one, and the crowd almost broke the clap-ometer when Lewandowski was introduced. The signing of the summer, without doubt.
It’s like Lewandowski, Pedri have been playing together for years
After a simple, heartfelt tribute to Dani Alves, who arrived at the Camp Nou as Pumas’ biggest name, Barcelona set about playing the game as if it were their last: they showed creativity, composure, team work, and all the other things you need to do well out on the pitch. Within three minutes, Lewandowski had already opened the scoring from a Pedri pass. Soon, the Pole turned provider for the youngster. Then it was Raphinha who set up Ousmane Dembélé to score, before Pedri - again from Lewandowski’s pass - made it four. Watching them lay goals on for each other, you could have been forgiven for thinking that Lewandowski and Pedri had grown up playing the game together on the streets of the same neighbourhood.
Xavi uses Gamper to send messages
The second half offered Barça head coach Xavi Hernández an opportunity to show off the depth of talent he had on the bench: Piqué, Jordi Alba, De Jong, Aubameyang… and Jules Koundé, who was given a rapturous ovation when he was introduced on the hour mark. We also saw Memphis Depay, who, like De Jong, had the look of a man motivated to show he’s worthy of staying at the club. By the end, pretty much everyone had had a run-out. I came away from the game with the feeling that Xavi had sent a few messages (it was striking that Álex Balde started ahead of Alba, and that Eric García kept Piqué on the bench) and had given us a good indication of his plans for the season. An excellent night for Barça, who won 6-0 and look to be back.