Lechia Gdansk vs. Barcelona: What to Expect from La Blaugrana

Tre' Atkinson@@TreAtkinsonFeatured ColumnistJuly 18, 2013

Lechia Gdansk vs. Barcelona: What to Expect from La Blaugrana

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    The new season is nearly upon us and that means preseason friendlies are underway, but not every club has begun their warm-up matches.  Barcelona is set to face off in their first friendly of the summer on Saturday against Polish club Lechia Gdansk.

    Despite the encounter being a mere friendly in Poland, Barcelona fans will be aching to see their side playing again. But what should viewers expect from the Catalan club in the first friendly of the summer?

    That is the question we will answer in the next few slides. Keep reading to find out.

Neymar Will Not Play

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    Let’s get right to the disappointing news. Though fans are dying to see Neymar in his first match in a Barcelona jersey, it will not be happening in Poland.

    The club recently announced on their official website that the participants from the Confederations Cup are due back in the coming weeks, and have not returned at this point. That means we will all have to wait for Neymar’s debut.

    This also means that the majority of the first team, such as Dani Alves, Xavi, Iniesta, Gerard Pique and Jordi Alba, will not be participating either. 

Lionel Messi Will Play, but Not Long

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    What fans will be excited about is the fact that Lionel Messi will in fact be part of the squad travelling to Poland. The Argentine star has been training with his available teammates and will almost certainly feature.

    However, due to his injuries at the end of last season and the possibility of getting injured again, it is unlikely that he will play more than an entire half in such a meaningless friendly.

    In any case, it will be incredible for football fans to see Messi back in the new Blaugrana shirt playing for his club, even if it is only for a little while.

    According to the club's official website, Messi was recently quoted as saying: "I am looking forward to the preseason, as always."

    Let's see just what that statement means in Poland.  

Sergi Roberto Will Dazzle

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    With Thiago now departed for Bayern Munich, a lot of trust is being placed on young Sergi Roberto. Fans should expect the midfielder to have a huge game in the friendly that will have people talking for days.

    Sergi Roberto may not be Thiago but he is still a very promising La Masia graduate. He understands the Barcelona system and will be ready to make a name for himself this season.

    For fans to get behind the Catalan, he will have to earn his praise in Poland or it could be a long year for the 21-year-old. 

Marc Bartra Will Be the Standout Player

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    The only person standing in the way of Marc Bartra’s success at this point is Marc Bartra. The defender will want to show that he is capable of starting for Barcelona next season and will have to have an awe-inspiring match in Poland.

    With fans still hoping for the arrival of a new defender, Bartra knows that his chances of making it at the club are getting slimmer. He must show he has what it takes and fans should expect him to outplay everyone else on the pitch.

    Look for Bartra to play the majority of the match as manager Tito Vilanova will be taking a good look at the young defender. Fans should also be ready to see what Bartra can really do in a Blaugrana shirt. 

Barcelona Will Win Big

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    This really isn’t a shock to anyone. Playing against a club like Lechia Gdansk will always see Barcelona cruise to victory, but that is not the point of preseason friendlies.

    Look for the fringe players to step up as they try to earn their place in the lineup. Cristian Tello and Alexis Sanchez will both likely find the back of the net, as will several other stars.

    In the end, I predict a convincing 6-0 victory for La Blaugrana with the highlight of the match being a clean sheet. The score will not tell the real story, though. It will be the way the entire team plays that will be the real treat.

    What are you expecting out of the friendly in Poland? Will Messi be in midseason form? Will the absence of Neymar turn off viewers? Leave your thoughts and comments below.

    Tre’ Atkinson. Follow me on Twitter for more discussions on FC Barcelona and all Spanish football.