FC Barcelona 3-1 Gimnàstic Tarragona

FC Barcelona have got their preseason off to a winning start with a 3-1 defeat of fellow Catalan side Gimnàstic Tarragona in today’s friendly in front of an empty Estadi Johan Cruyff – which was being graced for the first time ever today by the senior team.

New manager Ronald Koeman’s first game in charge brought plenty of debuts and also the chance to welcome back players from loans and injury, and although this fixture was ‘just’ a warm-up and didn’t always have the intensity of a competitive fixture, the conclusions were very positive indeed.

Dembélé back and scoring

The Dutch coach, employing his favourite 4-2-3-1 system, had stated before the game that he’d be fielding different XIs in each half. He opted to begin with Neto, Alba, Piqué, Lenglet, Sergi Roberto, Aleñá, Sergio Busquets, Pedri, Dembélé, Messi and Griezmann.

Wearing the yellow and red ‘senyera’ kit on the day after the national day of Catalonia, things got off to the perfect start for the home side. Ousmane Dembélé, playing his first game since last November, nabbed a loose ball in the box and fired Barça ahead after just five minutes.

And ten minutes later, that lead was extended when Gerard Piqué was brought down in the area and Antoine Griezmann, wearing his new number 7 shirt, converted the spot kick.

The home side were outclassing their Division 2B guests, but Nàstic managed to make a game of it by pulling one back on the half hour. Javier Bonilla drove a shot home and it was 2-1.

Standout performances in the first half included a very active Carles Aleñá, fresh back from his loan spell at Betis, and a promising first 45 minutes in a Barça jersey for Pedri.

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