With the Premier League season a week away, and La Liga following the week after, pre-season friendlies are ramping up the intensity.
Barcelona host Arsenal in what is sure to be one of the best Joan Gamper Trophy games for years.
Normally, this is a chance for the Catalans to flex their muscles and, invariably, score a hatful, but the north Londoners certainly won’t be arriving at the Camp Nou to be the whipping boys.Traditionally the game where all of the first-team squad are introduced to the home crowd for the first time, those that turn up for the game will get their first look at Frenkie De Jong and Antoine Griezmann.
Let’s take a look at three things that might affect the outcome of the game.
Arsenal’s three-headed monster
With the signing of Nicolas Pepe from Lille, the Gunners front line is a scary thought for any opponent.
In Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Unai Emery already had a pairing that plundered 50 goals between them last season, and adding Pepe to the mix will take things up a notch.
Pace, power and an eye for goal is an intoxicating mix, and Barcelona will need to be on the guard from first minute to last in order to prevent Arsenal from scoring.
De Jong’s midfield dominance
Though this is still a fixture to ostensibly give every player a run out, there are one or two that will be wanting to stake an early claim for a starting place.
Frenkie De Jong has been little short of sensational in the short time that he’s had available to work with his new team-mates.
In the two halves of football he played in China, against Chelsea and Vissel Kobe, the Dutchman was simple but effective.
Against the Blues his passing accuracy was at 100 percent, and the Catalans certainly looked a different proposition with him in the side.
There’ll be much interest in how he performs against a strong Arsenal side.
One of the things that Barcelona supporters are most interested to find out is whether Ernesto Valverde will introduce a new shape to the side this season.
A formulaic 4-4-2 has been his go-to formation, however, with the addition of Antoine Griezmann, and possibly Neymar before the window closes, the Basque needs to look at something much more attacking in order to keep everyone playing and happy.
Defensively, Barcelona are well set, and they’ve more than enough talent in midfield, but something’s got to give.