Barcelona will be seeking revenge when they face AS Roma in their second International Champions Cup match on Wednesday at the AT & T Stadium in Texas.
Following a narrow win over Tottenham Hotspur in their opening International Champions Cup friendly, Barcelona will be keen to register another victory as they look to ease their way into the pre-season campaign this summer. However, they will be coming up against the team that knocked them out of the UEFA Champions League last season in the shape of AS Roma.
Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde has remained very strict in his team composition this summer, having already shipped out Paulinho in order to make room for new signings. But, he will not be expected to line up his strongest XI as he looks to check out on a few talented youngsters before the season kicks off next month.
Roma, on the other hand, have travelled to Texas with a strong team and will be keen to get back into winning after being thrashed by Tottenham Hotspur in the earlier game. We could expect a host of talented yet experienced players in their starting eleven as they aim to produce a similar performance against Barcelona as they did last season.
And here, at the Hard Tackle, we run the rule over the two teams ahead of their highly anticipated clash this midweek at the AT & T Arena in Texas!
Team News & tactics
Valverde has picked a chunk of players from Barcelona B side in their pre-season trip to the US and most of them are tipped to start against Roma. On a negative note, however, the passionate US soccer fans will miss out on seeing their favourite superstars in the likes of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Philipe Coutinho in action. All of these players are currently enjoying an extended vacation for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The Spanish giants are likely to field the 4-4-2 formation they used against Spurs in their last match. Munir El Haddadi will retain his position in the starting lineup while Barcelona outcast Paco Alcacer is likely to be introduced into the starting eleven amid speculations linking him to a move away from Camp Nou this summer.
The main focus, however, will be on new signing Arthur. The former Gremio midfielder had a memorable debut against Tottenham as he scored Barcelona’s second goal with a stunning strike. He will be deployed in central midfield alongside versatile midfielder Sergi Roberto.
Another new signing Malcom could feature this week in the right wing position. The Blaugrana will be excited to see what he brings to the table after initially arriving at Catalonia for a fee of £36.5 million.
Barcelona’s defence will consist of Nelson Semedo, Marlon Santos, Clement Lenglet and Juan Miranda with former Ajax keeper Jesper Cillessen starting in goal.
Predicted Lineup (4-4-2): Cillessen; Semedo, Marlon, Lenglet, Miranda; Malcom, Arthur, Roberto, Perez; Munir, Alcacer.
As mentioned earlier, Roma come into this game with a strengthened unit who are keen on making a mark in this pre-season competition. And following their demoralizing defeat to Spurs, a win is imperative as they aim to kickstart their campaign in a positive way.
Head coach Eusebio de Francesco will be keen on not conceding too many goals against a dangerous looking Barcelona attack. As a result, we could witness some extra fortification in defence as Francesco is poised to line up a five-man backline this week.
The 48-year-old notably used a similar formation in their game against Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League last season and there’s absolutely no reason as to why he shouldn’t try his luck once again.
The five-man backline will often shift into a three-man backline depending on the situation. And in certain cases, we could also see a pendulating back-four with wingback playing as auxiliary midfielders.
Kostas Manolas is expected to lead the defence along with Juan Jesus and Federico Fazio in the three-man backline. Davide Santon and the highly talented Lorenzo Pellegrini are expected to be deployed as wingbacks. Pellegrini, in particular, has the characteristics of a midfielder. As a result, we could see him shift into a more central role as the game progresses.
Roma’s attacking line will be led by Patrick Schick, who scored their only goal during the 4-1 defeat to Tottenham. He will be partnered by Cengiz Under in a two-man forward line. In midfield, Daniele De Rossi will lead the side, partnered by Kevin Strootman and the new signing Javier Pastore.
Predicted Lineup (5-3-2/3-5-2 formation): Mirante; Santon, Manolas, Jesus, Fazio, Pellegrini; De Rossi, Pastore, Strootman; Under, Schick.
Journey so far in the International Champions Cup
Barcelona needed the penalty shootout to scrap a narrow victory against Tottenham Hotspur. After leading 2-0 after half-time, the Catalans conceded twice in the second half, thanks to goals from Christian Eriksen and Son Heung-Min. Anthony Georgiou’s tame effort, however, proved to be costly for the English giants as Barcelona edged them out in a tightly contested penalty shootout.
Interestingly, Barcelona’s opponent AS Roma have also faced Tottenham in their last ICC game but the outcome was very different. The Lilywhites scored four goals against a hapless Roma defence, who were looking all over the place following the departure of Radja Nainggolan and Alisson this summer.
Munir El Haddadi
Munir has always been something special despite failing to make a breakthrough into the Barcelona first team. A product of La Masia, the Spaniard has been lauded as one of the most talented players to come out of the revered youth academy in recent years. But, he has failed to live up to his hype thus far.
However, a good performance against AS Roma will help him impress Valverde as looks into the younger options at his disposal next season. His pace and trickery in the final third will definitely prove to be a handful for a Roma defence, who have already shown signs of weaknesses earlier this summer.
Barcelona 2-0 Roma
Despite having an inferior team when compared to Roma, Barcelona are still huge favourites to win this tie, largely thanks to his excellent team composition. The Catalans have a number of players who can change the complexity of the game at any juncture despite their lack of experience in the top flight.
But, it would be interesting to see how the Italian giants approach this clash especially after coming on the back of a disappointing defeat.