Barcelona’s new coach Luis Enrique notched up a 1-0 win Saturday in his first game in charge, a pre-season friendly against second division club Recreativo de Huelva. In the absence of star strikers Lionel Messi and Neymar, Enrique gave a workout to substitutes and B-team youngsters such as Joan Roman, 21, who scored Barca’s 65th-minute winner.
Seconds earlier Barcelona’s returning first-team forward Gerard Deulofeu, 20, had a powerful shot blocked by Huelva’s goalkeeper Dani Sotres only for Roman to slam home the rebound from close range. Barcelona dominated possession over their Andalusian hosts but laboured to hit their target in the first half.
In the second half Enrique changed the line-up, introducing Deulofeu, who has returned to the club after a season on loan to Everton. As well as his saved shot, he hit the crossbar two minutes from full time after being played through by Ibrahim Afellay.
The Catalan club’s new goalkeeper, German international Marc-Andre ter Stegen, also played in the second half for his first game in a Barcelona strip. Enrique is overhauling the squad after a disappointing season in which Barcelona narrowly failed to defend their Spanish league title.
Barcelona have said goodbye to stalwarts such as Carles Puyol, goalkeeper Victor Valdes and midfielder Cesc Fabregas, and have made several new signings. These include two new goalkeepers, Ter Stegen and Claudio Bravo, and Croatia midfielder Ivan Rakitic. The latter two did not play on Saturday.
Argentine ace Messi and Brazil’s Neymar were on holiday after playing for their countries in the FIFA World Cup™. Saturday’s friendly match marked the 50th edition of the Colombino Trophy, an annual fixture hosted by Huelva that celebrates its proud history as Spain’s oldest football club.