Rocked by the news of Lionel Messi’s departure, Barcelona will round off their preparations for the 2021-22 campaign with a clash against Juventus in the Joan Gamper Trophy on Sunday night.
Barcelona, without Messi, will begin their La Liga season at home to Real Sociedad on August 15, while Juventus are due to open their new Serie A campaign away to Udinese on August 22.
On Thursday, the world of football was shocked when Barcelona announced that they would be unable to sign Messi to a new contract, meaning that the club legend will play his football elsewhere in 2021-22.
At one point, it appeared that the Argentine would make his first appearance of pre-season in this match, having penned a new five-year contract, but Barcelona’s financial issues have prevented them from keeping hold of the attacker, who could now move to Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer.
Ronald Koeman’s side cannot afford to dwell on the news, though, as their La Liga opener against Real Sociedad will take place next weekend, and Sunday’s clash with Juventus in the Joan Gamper Trophy will be the manager’s final chance to iron out the details ahead of the return of competitive action.
The Catalan giants have played four friendlies this summer, beating Gimnastic, Girona and Stuttgart comfortably in their opening three fixtures before losing 2-1 to Red Bull Salzburg on Wednesday.
Messi might have moved on, but Memphis Depay, Sergio Aguero and Eric Garcia have arrived, and it will be fascinating to see what the team can achieve in the coming season, as they were seven points off La Liga champions Atletico Madrid last season and will now be missing one of the greatest players of all time.
Juventus have been very quiet during this summer’s transfer window, with a permanent move for Weston McKennie their only business at this stage, and it remains to be seen whether the funds are there for a big-money move for a centre-forward, with Manchester City’s Gabriel Jesus thought to be a leading target.
The Serie A giants are back under the management of Massimiliano Allegri, who has returned for a second spell, and the Italian will be determined to add to the five Serie A titles that he previously won.
The Old Lady finished fourth in Serie A last season and were only one point above fifth-place Napoli; securing a spot in the 2021-22 Champions League was absolutely crucial, but performances simply must improve if they are to return to the top of Italian football once again.
Juventus will not open their 2021-22 Serie A season until August 22, when they travel to Udinese, and the club has only played two friendlies this summer, beating Cesena and Monza.
Much of the pre-match talk will be dominated by a certain Argentine, but Cristiano Ronaldo is expected to feature for Juventus this weekend, fresh from scoring five times for Portugal at Euro 2020, which saw him become the joint-highest international goalscorer of all time with 109.
Barcelona Pre-Season Friendlies form:
Juventus Pre-Season Friendlies form: