In football, preseason matches are not judged by wins and losses. Instead, they are judged by what happens in the 90 minutes on the pitch.
With that in mind, despite losing 2-0 to Bayern Munich, Barcelona and its fans have much to be happy about.
Not only did La Blaugrana face off against the European champions, they did so without the bulk of their starting lineup.
Even so, Barcelona played rather well.
With former manager Tito Vilanova stepping down due to illness, the terrible end to last season and the slow transfer window, fans have not had much to be happy about.
Let's look at why the match against Bayern Munich should have Cules everywhere smiling.
One thing that fans quickly learned about Barcelona last season is that the club is in desperate need of better defending. Though the club has not yet purchased a new defender this summer, the current players have sure stepped up.
Though it was only a friendly and the importance of the match was rather low, Barcelona played some of the best defense fans have seen in over a year.
La Masia product Marc Bartra was arguably the best defender on the pitch and led the back line, while reserve team players such as Carles Planas also stepped up in a big way.
The defense also had to play at a high level without much cover as Sergio Busquets was not on the pitch and Alex Song played more of an attacking role throughout the first half.
The Barcelona defense looked much more controlled and comfortable than last season. It may have been only a friendly, but fans can at least take solace in the fact the regular mistakes were few and far between on the night.
Barcelona has made their name not only with their tiki-taka style of playing, but with the team’s ability to press high up the pitch and win the ball back.
Over the last year or so, the club seems to have slowly reverted away from that pressing style, but that was not the case against Bayern Munich. From the very beginning of the match, Barcelona was working tirelessly to win the ball back before it crossed the middle of the pitch.
Wingers such as Alexis Sanchez and Cristian Tello tracked back well despite the match only being a friendly, as did several other first-team players.
In the second half, the reserve team players for Barcelona pressed even more than the regular starters and seemed to push Bayern Munich in a surprising way.
The greatest sight was seeing Barcelona, as a team, working to win the ball back. The squad did not turn the ball over nearly as much and did not allow their opponents to hit on the counter, which has been Barcelona’s weakness.
If there is anything fans are hoping to see again, it is pressing. From the look of things, it appears as though Barcelona will again make that a priority entering the new season.
Above all else, the biggest takeaway for Barcelona on the night was the performances put in by the club’s young stars.
In the first half, Sergi Roberto showed that he is truly ready to join the first team with hard work and dazzling play in midfield. Cristian Tello also impressed, and it's safe to say he will compete for a starting role this season as well.
The real story was that the second half featured a completely different lineup, which put up a serious fight against the European champions.
The entire Barcelona lineup, which was completely made up of reserve team players, tested Bayern Munich and forced them to play much stronger.
The young Barcelona stars began to create scoring chances and defended superbly. Despite their age, the La Masia products were not afraid to go right at Bayern Munich and stood toe-to-toe with the German giants.
Barcelona fans should not only be excited about the future with such bright stars, but they should also be proud of the heart and courage on display in the second half.
Let us all stop and remember that this was only the club’s first preseason match of the summer. Though the game had little importance and was more relaxed than an ordinary match, it is only the beginning.
From this point, the squad can build for the coming season.
New manager Tata Martino will quickly learn just what his players are capable of and also get a good glimpse of the stars of the future. It is important to remember that this Barcelona squad was without the bulk of the starting lineup.
The coming season will be a new era for Barcelona. The strength of the Catalans is not gone, it is merely toned down.
This match gave fans a view of the heart and wonder that Barcelona still possesses. Once the other players arrive at training and the season gets closer to beginning, fans can expect La Blaugrana to be ready.
It may only be a friendly, but you have to start somewhere, and this match was a great beginning for Barcelona.
How did Barcelona look against Bayern Munich? Can the Catalans remain one of the world’s best this season? Leave your thoughts and comments below!