Party starts at 17.00
One of the biggest attractions of the Joan Gamper Estrella Damm Trophy is always the festivities in the build-up. The gates open at 17.00, five hours before kickoff, where there will be musical entertainment offered by such groups as ‘Els Catarres’, ‘Blues Metal Duel’ and ‘Always Drinking Marching Band’. There will be a host of other activities, such as tattoo workshops, face-painting and puppet shows, as well as shooting machines, water football and an area populated by the Barça Toons. Once inside the stadium the speaker will be providing the pre-match entertainment, with competitions and tributes to the heroes of 1992. Just before the game gets under way between FC Barcelona and UC Sampdoria, the Camp Nou will also enjoy the presentation of the squad and will get to hear Tito Vilanova address the supporters for the first time as first team manager.
The Joan Gamper Estrella Damm Trophy this year is going to bring back plenty of memories. FC Barcelona welcome UC Sampdoria just over 20 years after winning the club’s first ever European Cup on that unforgettable night at Wembley on May 20, 1992. Two decades later, and the club is preparing a much deserved tribute to the players that won the first of the four European trophies that now stand proudly in the club museum.
So there is more than ever to look forward to at the Gamper this year. As well as the activities in the Camp Nou and the presentation of the first team before the match, the forty-seventh edition on August 20 at 22.00 will also be bringing back together the heroes of that night in the old Wembley Stadium. And also appearing as guests of honour will be the club that was on the receiving end of Koeman’s famous free kick in the second half of extra time: UC Sampdoria. Many of the protagonists of that wonderful night in London have already confirmed their presence in Barcelona for this re-encounter.
Maxi López, an old friend
But the Barça players involved in the game itself belong to a new generation, just like Gianluca Pagliuca, Attilio Lombardo, Gianluca Vialli and Roberto Mancini now belong to Sampdoria’s past – a golden period in which Genoa was home to one of the strongest outfits in Europe. The current version only just won promotion back into Serie A at the end of last season, but they have returned with new ambitions, and the target is to restore the club to the same kind of status it enjoyed in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
To do this, there has been a change of manager. Former Napoli and Juventus star Ciro Ferrara has been on the Sampdoria bench since early July, and has signed former Barça striker Maxi López to form a forward partnership with Nicola Pozzi, the top scorer for the Italians last season. The player is best remembered for the only goal he scored in a year and a half at the club, and also an assist in the same match, against Mourinho’s Chelsea in the second round of the 2004/05 Champions League.
This is the second time that ‘Samp’ have appeared at the Gamper. They also came in 1997, and after AC Milan in 2010 and Napoli in 2011, this will also be the third time running that the guests have been from Italy. FC Barcelona has played as many as seven different Italian teams in the Gamper over the years, namely Inter Milan, Juventus, Parma, Brescia, AC Milan, Napoli and Sampdoria. The ‘Old Lady of Turin’ is the only one of those sides that can claim to have won the Gamper, which they did in 2005, the night best remembered for a breakthrough performance by a young and relatively unknown Argentinian called Leo Messi.
The 47th Gamper is one of three consecutive games at the Camp Nou. The weekend before, Tito Vilanova’s side will return to Liga action against Real Sociedad, and just three days later face Real Madrid in the first clásico of the season, corresponding to the Spanish Supercup first leg. So, the Gamper will be an important test before contesting the first official trophy of the season.