Barça Beats Ronaldo’s Juve In First Match Of Post-Messi Era As Fans Try To Say Goodbye

After all the tearful farewells to Lionel Messi in the morning, Barcelona still had a match to play on Sunday evening. And in the 10th minute, the limited fans in attendance gave a preview of how they’ll honor the club legend throughout the upcoming campaign.

Messi gave his farewell press conference on Sunday morning, breaking into tears and receiving a standing ovation from teammates. Those same teammates had to refocus on the final preseason friendly against Juventus in the Joan Gamper Trophy, an annual friendly hosted by Barcelona. The home side won 3-0 with goals from Memphis Depay, Martin Braithwaite and Riqui Puig.

While fans were denied a chance to have a proper send-off match for their favorite hero, undoubtedly the best player in club history, they honored the No. 10 by chanting his name in the 10th minute. The match was played in front of a limited audience at the 6,000-seat Johan Cruyff Stadium, Barcelona’s training/youth facility, but the fans still made the intent clear. 

Fans will reportedly continue this chant through every Barcelona match this season to honor Messi. It’s a great sentiment, though most fans will wish Messi had been able to stay in Barcelona, his home since 2000

Barça vs Juve Highlights — Joan Gamper Trophy

Even before the fans honored Messi, the man who will be expected to replace his goals got on the board for Barça. Memphis Depay took advantage of some shoddy defending to open the scoring in the third minute. 

Martin Braithwaite made it 2-0 with a header off a corner kick in the 57th minute. 

Riqui Puig finished the scoring off with a lovely strike from range in what proved to be the final kick of the match. It was undoubtedly a Messi-esque finish.

Americans were heavily involved in the matchup of two of Europe’s heavyweights. Sergiño Dest started at right back for Barça and received a nasty (but incidental) elbow from Cristiano Ronaldo. PB&J aficionado Weston McKennie came off the bench at halftime to play in Juventus’ midfield. 

Dest looked a bit better in his 62 minutes on the pitch than he did at Messi’s news conference earlier in the day, where Dest showed up thinking he was going to play in a basketball game or something (sixth pic below).

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Ronaldo played the opening 45 minutes for Juve, unable to provide much of an impact, though he did sting the palms of Neto with a strong shot. It was, perhaps, fitting Barça’s first game in the post-Messi era was against Ronaldo. The two were intrinsically linked throughout much of their careers, rivals on two of the biggest squads in the world at Real Madrid and Barcelona, the better between the two winning the Ballon d’Or basically every year for more than a decade. 

Now Barcelona, like Real Madrid a few years ago, must learn to play without one of the most influential players of all time. The Messi-less club will take on Real Sociedad in the marquee fixture of LaLiga’s opening weekend on Aug. 15, a match that will be aired live on ABC, the first time LaLiga graces broadcast TV in the U.S.

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