Barcelona FC appeared to lack rhythm and creativity in the team’s 1-2 friendly loss to Chelsea in the Japanese city of Saitama.
Tuesday’s match was the debut of Barcelona’s recent and much talked about signings, Antoine Griezmann and Frenkie de Jong, while the side’s youth academy players registered some of their best stats, reports Efe news.
Griezmann and De Jong showed off their talents but that was not enough against the better-organised English side.
It was Barcelona’s first friendly in the pre-season during a tour of Japan.
The side is without some of its big stars: Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Arturo Vidal, Coutinho and Arthur, who were all on international duty at the 2019 Copa America.
Coach Ernesto Valverde started the game with Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele in attack, while youth team players Riqui Puig, Oriol Busquets and Alex Collado played in midfield along with Sergio Busquets.
The Catalan squad dominated ball possession from the start but the players lacked accuracy and it was difficult for them to penetrate past Chelsea’s defensive lines.
The Premier League side preferred to sit back and wait for the best moment to counter-attack.
After the game was underway, both sides had chances as they settled into their own versions of play.
Ultimately, it was Chelsea that scored first thanks to Tammy Abraham, the player who made the most of a missed pass by Sergio Busquets to dribble past goalie Marc-Andre ter Stegen and put the ball in the empty net in the 34th minute.
Barcelona could not react accordingly, earning one chance on goal for the rest of the half, a one-two play between French duo Griezmann and Dembele which missed the goal.
In the second half, Valverde rearranged the team, including substitutes De Jong, Malcom and Carles Perez.
Perez was Barcelona’s most active player, taking the initiative to seek out a tie, along with Carles Aleña.
On the other side of the pitch, Chelsea’s former player and coach Frank Lampard started to gradually use his bench, with Marcos Alonso, Olivier Giroud and Michy Batshuayi.
The London side looked more solid after the substitutions and prevailed over Barcelona in ball possession during the second half, to eventually double its lead on the scoreboard in the final stretch.
With less than 10 minutes to go before stoppage time, Ross Barkley’s left-footed effort from outside the area was out of Neto’s reach, making it 2-0 for Chelsea.
Barcelona managed to react but it was too little too late.
Barcelona’s lone score came courtesy Ivan Rakitic’s long-range shot that went into the back of Chelsea’s net in the first minute of injury time to make the final 1-2.
Barcelona is set to end its tour with a second friendly against Japan’s Vissel Kobe, the team that signed the Catalan side’s former captain Andres Iniesta last summer.