Riqui Puig scored a brilliant late goal to seal a 3-0 Joan Gamper Trophy win for Barcelona against Juventus on Sunday at the Estadi Johan Cruyff.
The 22-year-old came off the bench in the second half of the match and curled a superb effort past goalkeeper Wojciech Szczęsny in the 92nd minute to seal an impressive win for Ronald Koeman’s men.
Barcelona opened the scoring early on with new signing Memphis Depay bagging his third goal in four pre-season games for his new club after an assist by exciting 18-year-old Yusuf Demir.
Striker Martin Braithwaite headed home Barca’s second of the night just before the hour before Puig wrapped things up.
The traditional curtain-raiser is Barca’s final pre-season fixture before the start of the 2021-22 La Liga campaign. The win sends the Catalan giants into the new campaign with good momentum on what was a difficult day.
Barcelona had earlier said goodbye to captain Lionel Messi at an emotional press conference at the Camp Nou where the Argentine had admitted he had not wanted to leave.
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Koeman ‘Optimistic’ Despite Messi Exit
Coach Ronald Koeman addressed the crowd at the Estadi Johan Cruyff before the match, as is tradition at the Gamper Trophy, and said he is optimistic about the new season despite losing his captain, as reported by Sport.
“Despite Leo Messi’s departure, we are very optimistic about the season ahead. We are very pleased with the squad we have, the signings we have made and the young players who are making the step up, who will always form part of the future of this great club,” he said. “We are sure that we will make you very happy this season. With effort, sacrifice and hard work, we will try to do our very best [for the fans]. We know what it means to support and represent this club. Visca el Barça y visca Catalunya.”
Barca’s impressive youngsters were on show again versus Juve which does offer the club hope for the future. Demir put in the sort of performance that suggests he will stay with the first team, Puig’s goal will help his chances, while defenders Ronald Araujo and Sergino Dest helped keep a clean sheet.
Pique: Barcelona ‘A Bit Broken’ By Messi Exit
Fellow defender Gerard Pique spoke to reporters after the match and was impressed by his team’s performance in the wake of Messi’s departure. The center-back admitted it’s been a tough time but knows the club must try to move on.
“The team was honestly a bit broken because of Messi’s departure, we will lose magic in attack, but we have to move forward, the fans expect a lot from us,” he said. “We lose the best player of all time. It has hurt us and it hurt him too. I don’t know the whole story, the two parties have said that it has been a matter of numbers… The management of the last years hasn’t helped, but history shows that we will get up.”
Barca will now head into the new La Liga season with an opening game against Real Sociedad on Sunday, August 15 at the Camp Nou.