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Luis Suarez Goal Lifts Barcelona Past Arsenal to Win 2019 Joan Gamper Trophy

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistAugust 4, 2019

BARCELONA, SPAIN - AUGUST 04:  Luis Suarez of Barcelona (R) celebrates after scoring his team's second goal with team mates during the Joan Gamper Trophy pre-season friendly match between FC Barcelona and Arsenal at Nou Camp on August 04, 2019 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
David Ramos/Getty Images

Luis Suarez scored a 90th-minute winner to helpย Barcelona come back from a goal down to beat Arsenal 2-1 and win the 2019 Joan Gamper Trophy on Sunday.ย ย 

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang put Arsenal 1-0 up in the first half, before the hosts drew level after the break thanks to an Ainsley Maitland-Niles own goal. Suarez would strike lateย on a day when Antoine Griezmann made his home debut for Barca and fellow summer import Frenkie de Jong appeared for the first time, while Lionel Messi was rested.

The game quickly settled into a predictable yet entertaining pattern. It involved the visitors taking a cagey approach and looking to strike on the break, while the home side bossed possession.

Arsenal's bid to be dangerous on the counter was aided by the pace of Aubameyang and Reiss Nelson, as well as the industry of Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Aubameyang was proving a particular menace, even though he fluffed his lines from close range when he failed to get his head to a Maitland-Niles cross.

It wasn't long before the Gunners' main man up front got his goal, though. Aubameyang unleashed a terrific shot from the edge of the box after being found by a raking pass from Mesut Ozil in the 36th minute:

Arsenal @Arsenal

๐Ÿš€ You do not stop those! ๐Ÿš€ @Aubameyang7 putting us in front at Camp Nou in style ๐Ÿ˜Ž ๐Ÿ”ต๐Ÿ”ด 0-1 ๐ŸŒ (41) https://t.co/BoyjcZvthJ

Ozil hasn't always been on the same page with head coach Unai Emery, but the languid No. 10 still has a key role to play as Arsenal's chief creative influence this season.

There is plenty of pace for Ozil to aim for, with Nelson showing how important he could be after returning from a solid loan spell with Hoffenheim:

Charles Watts @charles_watts

If this is a bit of a shoot-out between Nelson and Mkhi to see who starts next weekend (if Lacazette is fit), then Nelson is the clear winner so far.

Barca don't lack for creativity and weren't deterred from the turning on the style after going behind. Precocious 19-year-old midfielder Riqui Puig was catching the eye:

FC Barcelona @FCBarcelona

๐Ÿฌ Sweet, Riqui ... Sweeeeeet #GamperFest FCB 0-0 ARS ๐Ÿ“ฑ Download our app to watch the game live: https://t.co/pD1gjypdVn https://t.co/oJARNTZlQl

The Blaugrana needed a more direct brand of football to put Arsenal under greater pressure after the break. Ernesto Valverde's players responded in kind by pressing a yard higher up the pitch.

It led to numerous mistakes from a makeshift Arsenal defence. Maitland-Niles and Chambers were robbed on the edge of their own area, but Griezmann was unable to convert.

Barca's renewed pressure, combined with the Gunners' penchant for self-sabotage, eventually told when Maitland-Niles misjudged his 69th-minute back pass. The errant ball left Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno with no chance.

FC Barcelona @FCBarcelona

69' โšฝ๏ธ๐ŸŽ‰ GOOOOOOOOOOAAL! ๐ŸŽ Maitland-Miles in his own net. #GamperFest FCB 1-1 ARS ๐Ÿ† https://t.co/8P1aoItOIN

Arsenal tried to get the lead back and were able to count on the inspiration of substitute Bukayo Saka. The 17-year-old winger teased in deliveries Aubameyang and fellow sub Gabriel Martinelli ought to have converted.

Barca need some of the same kind of magic, but it wasn't going to come from the club's attacking talisman:

Samuel Marsden @samuelmarsden

Barรงa fans have not stopped chanting for Messi this half but they're going to be disappointed. He's not passed his medical tests for the season yet. Collado will be final sub, on for Griezmann.

The Gunners had the initiative, but the hosts had the more consistent match-winners. So it proved as substitute Suarez, moments after coming close to winning a penalty following a clumsy challenge from Shkodran Mustafi, volleyed in the winner after being picked out by Sergi Roberto in the final minute.

Arsenal's defence had left the prolific No. 9 in too much space, raising yet more questions about the lack of quality at the back. The Gunners have yet to make a signing in defensive areas this summer, a risky approach for a squad possessing a litany of gifted forwards but capable of conceding goals in bunches.

Meanwhile, the presence of Griezmann not only gives Suarez more support, but it also makes Barca more likely to cope without Messi if needs must this season.