Barcelona will play their yearly Camp Nou curtain-raiser match against Chapecoense in an attempt to honour the victims of the devastating plane tragedy

Barcelona will host Brazilian club Chapecoense as the teams face off in the annual Joan Gamper Trophy match. The Joan Gamper Trophy is an annual friendly game played between Barcelona and another team ahead of the new Liga season.

This year, the Catalan club will play Chapecoense as a tribute to the victims of the tragic plane crash which claimed the lives of a majority of the team last November. The match is expected to be a rather sombre affair since it will involve the families of the people who lost their lives and of those affected.

It will be a big game for the Brazilian club and for Barcelona as well, since this will mark their first match without Neymar. The talisman recently joined PSG, which evoked mixed reactions from fans and critics alike, and it will be interesting to see how the club fares in his his absence.

Team News & Tactics

Barcelona

Barcelona are likely to play a strong team against Chapecoense since this will be their last exhibition game ahead of the Supercopa Clasico games against Real Madrid. It will provide the club a good stage to experiment and test their strength ahead of their upcoming commitments.

The post-Neymar-era for Barcelona is close to dawning and football fans across the world will be interested in knowing how they play without the Brazilian star. Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez are likely to feature along with new signing Nelson Semedo and Gerard Deulofeu, whose buy-back clause was activated.

Rafinha is unlikely to play this match as he continues to recover from a knee injury he sustained right before the end of the previous season. Besides that, the club do not have any more injury concerns, and are expected to bring out their team in full-strength.

Considering the gravity of the situation, Barcelona are likely to treat this for what it is – an exhibition game. More than winning, the Catalan club are likely to focus on testing out their squad strength and probably experiment a little to set a solid formula as they prepare to challenge Real Madrid for the La Liga trophy in the upcoming season.

Possible Starting XI (4-3-3): Cillessen, Piqué, Semedo, Umtiti, Alba; Busquets, Rakitic, Iniesta; Messi, Suárez, Deulofeu

Chapecoense

Since the crash, Chapecoense have had to overcome several trials and tribulations. They managed to completely rebuild their squad and, considering the circumstances, one might even say that the team are performing well. However, they were knocked out of the Copa Libertadores in May for fielding an ineligible player.

Seven months into the re-build, the club sacked head coach Vagner Mancini and the assistant coach Emerson Cris will be in charge of the club till they find a permanent replacement. Meanwhile, Alan Ruschel, one of the three players to survive the plane crash, will make his return.

Ruschel, along with fellow players Neto and Jakson Follmann, were among the six survivors of the horrific incident. While Neto is expected to make a return in this game as well, Follmann’s leg had to be amputated, thus ending his playing career.

The game against Barcelona will prove to be a chance for Chapecoense to play for passion to honour the victims and those affected. A win is what they will be hoping for and are likely to put all their heart and soul into ensuring they can triumph over the Spanish giants.

Possible Starting XI (4-3-3): Elias, Ruschel, Neto, Grolli, Zeballos, Dodo, Girotto, Nadson, Arthur, Paulista, Rossi

Key Stats

  • Originally a four-team tournament, the trophy is named in honour of Joan Gamper, a Switzerland native who helped found Barcelona in 1899 and played for the club before becoming president in 1908.
  • Some of the biggest clubs in the world have been involved, including Bayern Munich, Juventus and Boca Juniors.
  • From 1997 on, the competition was reduced to just two teams, with one game being played to decide who claims the silverware.

Prediction

Barcelona 2 – 2 Chapecoense

It is quite evident that the game between Barcelona and Chapecoense will not have the typical feel of an exciting pre-season friendly given the poignant reason for its arrangement. The match will provide Barcelona with the chance to test out their squad strength ahead of the new season while for Chape, it will be more about playing for passion.

More than being a friendly, it is a match that will pay tribute to those who lost their lives in that dreadful plane crash, and that is likely to be what people focus on more than who wins. A certain sense of solemness is likely to shroud Camp Nou and it will be emotional undoubtedly, if Neto and Ruschel play.

Their involvement will, no doubt, be the main talking point of the match as they carry on the legacy of their fallen team-mates while moving on with their own careers. Thus, the friendly is likely to be a display of passion and emotion as the Spanish club host the Chapecoense side.