Joan Gamper Trophy: Barcelona's Youth Promise a Bright Future

Manuel TraqueteSenior Analyst IAugust 25, 2010

BARCELONA, SPAIN - AUGUST 25:  Carles Puyol (L) of Barcelona chats with his former teammate Ronaldinho of AC Milan after the Joan Gamper Trophy match between Barcelona and AC Milan at Camp Nou stadium on August 25, 2010 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
Denis Doyle/Getty Images

In their last game of the preseason, Barcelona beat Milan on penalties (after a 1-1 draw in the end of the 90 minutes) and captured the Joan Gamper Trophy.

Theoretically, it would be considered a disappointment to draw against a clearly inferior team, but the truth is that today's match was not disappointing at all, despite the result.

First of all, today was the day where Ronaldinho, a legend of FC Barcelona, returned to Nou Camp and the fans paid him a more than deserved tribute. This match was essentially about Ronaldinho getting the adequate farewell ceremony he hadn't got when he left Barcelona in the summer of 2008. Ronaldinho was visibly pleased with the love shown by the Barcelona fans and showed some glimpses of his old magic. He will be forever a legend of the club and will never be forgotten by the fans.

As for the match itself, Guardiola fielded a team with many players who presumably won't be regular starters this season. It was a chance to see incredibly talented young players like Jeffren, Jonathan dos Santos, and Thiago Alcantara show their immense potential. With youth players like these, Barcelona's future promises to be a bright one.

These players, even though they were obviously a little nervous, proved they already fit in perfectly in Barcelona's style of play and even a "B" version of Barcelona managed to dominate the match during the first half. However, Barcelona missed their chances and at half-time 0-0 was the score.

In the beginning of the second half, Daniel Alves, Bojan, and Thiago came into the match and Villa scored after a perfect cross from Barcelona's new signing, Adriano (a player who is showing that he can quite useful to Guardiola's plans). It was Villa's first goal with the blaugrana jersey. Besides scoring, Villa showed he is a perfect fit for Barcelona's game. He is fast, he is always providing good passing lines to his teammates and he has an incredible work ethic. Basically, the opposite of Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

After the goal, Barcelona made several changes. Piqué, Pedro, and Messi finally came into the match, much to the delight of the blaugrana fans. The team continued to dominate the match but, in a perfect counterattack, Fillipo Inzaghi, in the only real chance Milan had during the match, scored the equalizer in the 67th minute with an absolutely superb finishing. The 37-year-old striker showed that you can't teach an old dog new tricks: Inzaghi is still a superb striker.

Barcelona kept pushing forward until the end but some superb interventions from Flavio Roma, Milan's goalkeeper, denied Barcelona the victory.

Despite an overall good performance, there's something that should worry Guardiola: Xavi didn't play today and the team was clearly not the same. I know it's impossible to replace a legendary player like Xavi, but Guardiola should definitely come up with a backup plan. What if Xavi gets injured? Let's hope it doesn't happen, but today's match, along with many other matches, showed that, without Xavi, the team loses a lot of fluidity.

To sum up, today's match was an excellent preseason match and one that made every culé believe in a bright future for Barcelona. However, there's still room to improve.

A final word for AC Milan: they showed to be a very organized team and if they keep up the good work, they'll have better results than last season for sure.