The Blaugrana got off to a good start in their US tour with a 2-1 win over Los Angeles Galaxy in the 3rd edition of the International Champions Cup tournament. Despite Messi and Neymar being absent (the former granted an extended holiday and the latter owing to a red-card suspension during the Copa America) a mammoth crowd of over 93000 turned up at the Rose Bowl Pasadena to watch the European champions in action.
The Blaugrana were not able to find their feet for most of the first 45 minutes thanks to some deft marking and defensive work by Galaxy. But a sublime pass, just before half-time, essayed by Marc Bartra to Luis Suarez made it easy for the Uruguayan striker to slam the ball in for Barca’s first goal of the tour. Sergio Roberto made it 2-0 for the visitors by latching on to a loose ball in the Galaxy box. Galaxy’s consolation goal came from Tommy Meyer’s header to the corner of the Barca net just before the finish. Luis Enrique was liberal with his changes making as many as seven during the game.
Fresh on the heels of the 2-1 Pasadena win over Los Angeles Galaxy, Barcelona proceeded to San Jose where they played their next match against Manchester United in front of a carnival crowd of 68,400. But it was United who set the tone for the proceedings with Wayne Rooney scoring off a corner kick in as early as the 8th minute of play. Barcelona got out of their shock soon and found their natural rhythm. Suarez and Ivan Rakitic found the woodwork thrice.
Apart from poor luck, some excellent goalkeeping by United’s De Gea prevented Barca from getting that elusive goal. To add to the cavalier atmosphere, Lou Van Gaal substituted the entire ManU playing eleven in the 63rd minute. It did produce results with Jesse Lingaard doubling the lead for his team. Luis Enrique also made five substitutions in the 70th minute. Some fresh legs did fetch the Catalans results through Rafinha’s goal in the 90th minute. Waves of Barca attacks in the dying minutes did give rise to hopes of an equaliser. But that was quickly punctured by a death-time strike by Adnan Januzaj to make it 3-1 for Manchester United.
Stung by their defeat at the Levis stadium, San Jose, at the hands of Manchester United, the Blaugrana played a much better game against English champions Chelsea at Washington DC on the 29th. But it was Chelsea who scored first. Eden Hazard, after some brilliant dribbling and weaving through defenders found the back of the net in the 15th minute. Barcelona was able to claw back and got into their possession mode of play and thanks to some sloppy defending by Chelsea their opening came; the result of which were two brilliant second half goals from Suarez and Sandro Ramírez.
The Catalan giants were unfortunate not to have won. A goalmouth botch-up by the Barcelona substitute keeper helped the Blues equalize just five minutes before the finish. The Catalans had to settle for a 2-2 draw eventually.