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The Los Angeles Galaxy, FC Barcelona's first preseason opponent

Robbie Keane is one of the big stars at LA Galaxy / FCB
The Californians are the current MLS champions and have signed Steven Gerrard as part of their bid to win the CONCACAF Champions League

A month before the preseason gets under way, we take a look at the four teams that FC Barcelona will be playing in this summer’s International Champions Cup. It all starts on July 21 (at 5.00am CET on July 22 back in Barcelona) against Los Angeles Galaxy at the Pasadena Rose Bowl.
 
Los Angeles
is about to experience scenes similar to those in 2007 when David Beckham joined the team. Former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has left English football to play for MLS champions Galaxy alongside Irishman Robbie Keane. With five titles to their name, one more than DC United, LA Galaxy is the most successful team in the history of the US soccer championship.

This year the Californians are also involved in the CONCACAF Champions League and will be hoping to win the continental title for the first time since 2000.

Second coming

FC Barcelona have been to North America on many occasions in the past, but this is only the second time that they will have played Galaxy. The only previous meeting was in 2009, also just after the Catalans had won the treble of Liga, Copa del Rey and Champions League. That game was also played at the Rose Bowl and ended in a 2-1 win for Barça thanks to goals from Pedro and Jeffren. The home side scored courtesy of a David Beckham free kick.

Euro legends

Team captain Robbie Keane had all kinds of injury problems in his fourth season in the MLS, but still placed in the top three players in the championship for both goals and assists. He has been named club MVP in each of the last three seasons. The team also includes Finnish international Mika Väyrynen and Sweden’s Stefan Ishizaki, and is coached by former US national team boss Bruce Arena. With Steven Gerrard added to the mix, there are plenty of reasons for fans of the Galácticos to fancy their chances in the forthcoming Champions League.

How Messi, Mascherano and Bravo got to the Copa América Final

Messi, Mascherano and Bravo are vying for yet another title in 2015. / FCB
The three FC Barcelona players lead their teams into Saturday’s Argentina–Chile title match

Leo Messi, Javier Mascherano and Claudio Bravo shared the Barca dressing room and celebrated the 2014/15 Treble together. But this Saturday the Barça three players face off in the final of the Copa América, and once the game is over, only two Argentina players or one Chilean goalkeeper will celebrate a new title.

To reach the final, Argentina won their group by drawing 2–2 with Paraguay and beating both Jamaica and Uruguay 1–0. In the quarter-finals, the Argentines had to go to penalty kicks to win, while they routed Paraguay 6–1 in the semi-finals.

Chile also won their group after a 3–3 draw against Mexico, a 2–0 win over  Ecuador and a 5–0 rout of Bolivia. In the quarter-finals they slipped past Uruguay 1–0 and then defeated Peru, 2–1, in the semis.

Blaugrana keys

All three Barça stars have played key roles for their respective teams on the road to Saturday’s Final. Mascherano only missed 13 minutes after being subbed out of the semi-finals to avoid a yellow card that would have left him out of the Final.

Messi, the Argentina captain, has just one goal, a penalty kick in the first match against Paraguay, but has taken 17 shots and has three assists.

Bravo is Chile’s captain and has conceded just four goals, with three shutouts in five games, tied for tops in the tournament.

Here’s a look at the stats from the three Barça players heading into the Copa América Final:

  Messi Mascherano Bravo
Games 5 5 5
Minutes 450 437 450
Goals 1 0 0
Shots on target 8 0
Shots off target 9 1
Scoring chances created 13 2
Assists 280 365 156
Passing percentage 83.6% 91.4% 39.5%
Interceptions 20 26 56
Tackles won 3 7
Tackles lost 0 1
Blocks 0 7 4
Fouls received 19 9 0
Fouls committed 1 5 0
Yellow cards 1 2 0

FC Barcelona has history versus International Champions Cup rivals

Dani Garcia in the 2003/04 preseason versus Manchester United. / FCB ARCHIVE
Barça face four teams — Manchester United, Fiorentina Los Angeles Galaxy, and Chelsea — once again in the preseason

FC Barcelona’s 2015/16 season will start off with a preseason tour of the United States, where they will participate in the 2015 International Champions Cup and square off against some familiar faces. Barça play the Los Angeles Galaxy at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California on 21 July, followed by Manchester United at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California on 25 July, and then Chelsea at FedExField in Landover, Maryland on 28 July. Barça fly to Florence, Italy to take on Fiorentina in the final preseason friendly, also a part of the International Champions Cup, on 2 August.

Here’s a look at Barça’s history versus this summer’s preseason rivals:

Los Angeles Galaxy

Despite several tours in the USA, FC Barcelona has only faced the Los Angeles Galaxy once, a friendly on 1 August 2009 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, the same place they’ll play this year. The Catalans won 2–1 with goals from Pedro and Jeffren. David Beckham scored on a free kick for the Galaxy.

Manchester United

Barcelona and Manchester United have played in several European competitions, but also in two friendlies held on the other side of the Atlantic. The first was played in 2003 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Curiously, the match was the first sporting event ever held at the brand-new stadium, built as the home of the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles. History aside, Manchester United won 3–1 on goals from Forlán (2) and Van Nistelrooy. Barça’s came from Patrick Kluivert.

On 30 July 2011 the two clubs met in Washington, DC in a rematch of the UEFA Champions League Final — which Barça won — played just two months earlier. In the rematch, Manchester United won 2–1 on goals from Nani and Owen. Thiago scored for Barça.

A third friendly match against the Red Devils was played in the 2012 preseason, but in the Swedish town of Göteborg, in a friendly that ended in a scoreless draw. Barça won, however, on a penalty shootout (2–0).

Fiorentina

Barça’s only match against the Italian club in this century was held in 2008 in the third friendly match of Pep Guardiola’s squad. At the Artemio Franchi stadium in Florence, Puyol, Jeffren and Bojan gave the victory to Barcelona, with Fiorentina pulling one back from Pazzini.

Barça and Fiorentina met four other times in the 20th century. Barça won 2–0 in 1969 at the Artemio Franchi. In 1982 they drew 0–0 at the Comunale. Then, in 1987, at the Trofeo Naranja semi-final in Valencia, Barca won 3–1. Finally, in 1997, in a match that lasted just 45 minutes, Fiorentina won 2–0 at the Artemio Franchi.

Chelsea

Against Chelsea, Barça have played fifteen official games in the UEFA Champions League and the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, but both clubs have never clashed in a friendly tournament.

Los Angeles Galaxy, the first opponent of the preseason

Robbie Keane is one of the big stars at LA Galaxy / FCB
The Californians are the current MLS champions and have signed Steven Gerrard as part of their bid to win the CONCACAF Champions League

A month before the preseason gets under way, we take a look at the four teams that FC Barcelona will be playing in this summer’s International Champions Cup. It all starts on July 21 (at 5.00am CET on July 22 back in Barcelona) against Los Angeles Galaxy at the Pasadena Rose Bowl.
 
Los Angeles
is about to experience scenes similar to those in 2007 when David Beckham joined the team. Former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has left English football to play for MLS champions Galaxy alongside Irishman Robbie Keane. With five titles to their name, one more than DC United, LA Galaxy is the most successful team in the history of the US soccer championship.

This year the Californians are also involved in the CONCACAF Champions League and will be hoping to win the continental title for the first time since 2000.

Second coming

FC Barcelona have been to North America on many occasions in the past, but this is only the second time that they will have played Galaxy. The only previous meeting was in 2009, also just after the Catalans had won the treble of Liga, Copa del Rey and Champions League. That game was also played at the Rose Bowl and ended in a 2-1 win for Barça thanks to goals from Pedro and Jeffren. The home side scored courtesy of a David Beckham free kick.

Euro legends

Team captain Robbie Keane had all kinds of injury problems in his fourth season in the MLS, but still placed in the top three players in the championship for both goals and assists. He has been named club MVP in each of the last three seasons. The team also includes Finnish international Mika Väyrynen and Sweden’s Stefan Ishizaki, and is coached by former US national team boss Bruce Arena. With Steven Gerrard added to the mix, there are plenty of reasons for fans of the Galácticos to fancy their chances in the forthcoming Champions League.

A busy July for FC Barcelona

Luis Enrique will be embarking on his second preseason with Barça. / MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB
The preseason begins mid-month and is highlighted by a trip to the United States for the International Champions Cup

The month of July brings with it a return to football activity. July 13 is the starting date for a busy preseason that includes a North American tour of international friendlies.

Monday 13 July: The first team will check in to the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper for physical and medical testing and a warm welcome before training sessons begin.


Sunday 19 July: After a first week of training, the first team will fly to the United States for the International Champions Cup.


Wednesday 22 July: First friendly of the preseason is at the Rose Bowl in Los Angeles, California against the Los Angeles Galaxy at 9.00pm PT (5.00am CET).


Saturday 25 July: The second preseason friendly will be played at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California against Manchester United at 1.00pm PT (10.00pm CET).


Wednesday 29 July: The third and final US friendly will be at FedExField in the Washington DC suburb of Landover, Maryland versus Chelsea at 8.00pm ET (2.00am CET).

The tour actually ends back on the Old Continent, when Barça will travel from the United States to Florence, Italy to play the last match of International Champions Cup against Fiorentina on August 2 at 9.00pm CET.

 

INTERNATIONAL CHAMPIONS CUP

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