More than 90,000 spectators watched 3-3 draw at Camp Nou in aid of research into nervous system disease
Barcelona and Manchester City interrupted their respective starts to the season to play a fundraiser at Camp Nou for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) research.
A crowd of 91,962 was at the stadium to raise money in aid of former goalkeeper Juan Carlos Unzue, and they were treated to an entertaining 3-3 draw.
Argentine striker Julian Alvarez gave City the lead before Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Frenkie de Jong scored for the home side.
Cole Palmer equalised, Memphis Depay put Barca back ahead, before Riyad Mahrez scored an injury-time penalty after Erling Haaland was tripped.
Unzue, who was diagnosed with the progressive neurodegenerative disease two years ago, was proud to be able to raise such a large amount to fund research at the Luzon Foundation.
“It’s not easy to set up these games. Football can generate fantastic revenue, it unites people, today it has shown it,” he said.
All funds raised through ticket sales for the game go towards aiding ALS research through the Luzon Foundation.
More than 90,000 spectators were at Camp Nou, but the amount of cash has not yet been announced.
The game was arranged in aid of Unzue, a former Barcelona team-mate and friend of City boss Pep Guardiola, who was diagnosed with ALS.
He spoke to the players and coaches prior to the game and gave an honorary kick-off, as well as addressing stadium.
“Thanks to the two clubs for their sensitivity to our cause,” Unzue said. “Thanks to all of you who have bought a ticket to be here today.”
The 20-year-old said he was not treating the game as a friendly and saw it as an opportunity to show what he could do.
He almost scored with a chance that he created for himself in the first half before rounding off a neat move with a well-timed run at the back post.
Palmer is highly-regarded and his performance will add more belief that he can cope with big occasions.
“When I go out there, I’ve got to take my opportunity – tonight wasn’t really a friendly for me, because I’ve got to prove myself,” he said.
“When I play, I have to score and have to assist so I’m glad I’ve done that.”
Barca’s sales pitchers:
The financial situation at Camp Nou continues to be a minefield with a busy end of transfer window still expected.
New signing Jules Kounde made a start, but has been unavailable for the first two games of La Liga as he has not yet been registered.
Barca will either sell or ask players to take wage cuts before they can buy or make any more manoeuvres in their squad.
So it may have been useful that all three goalscorers have been linked with other clubs, although it’s not clear whether any will leave.
Aubameyang, who got the first, is a Chelsea target, De Jong has been chased by Manchester United all summer and Depay has been linked with Juventus.
Speaking of transfers, if the City midfielder didn’t feel special before, he will have done after the post-match press conference.
Both coaches took the opportunity to praise the Portuguese star, who has has been linked with a move to the Catalan giants all summer.
“I love Bernardo as a player,” Xavi said. “He understands everything and has an amazing ability to make decisions.”
Asked about his future again, Guardiola said: “We want Bernardo Silva with us but I don’t want anyone to be unhappy here.”
City fans will be happiest when the transfer window shuts and his stay is confirmed once and for all.
The night was marred by a sickening clash of heads that saw the young defender leave the pitch on a stretcher.
Mbete has impressed coaches at the club and has been around the first team squad in training as he continues to develop.
With injuries to Aymeric Laporte and Nathan Ake, the Camp Nou friendly was an opportunity to get some minutes under his belt.
But after clashing with Barcelona defender Andreas Christensen, the game was stopped for nearly 10 minutes while Mbete received medical attention.
Hopefully, the 18-year-old will make a quick recovery from what was a nasty incident.
The £42 million ($50m) midfielder looked to be in some discomfort as he pulled up in the 56th minute holding his right shoulder.
Phillips has been waiting for his opportunity and will hope that the setback is not too serious, but he has had issues with his shoulder before.
He dislocated his shoulder during his time at previous club Leeds United and missed more than four weeks, although at one stage it looked like he might have surgery.
The 26-year-old was brought in to offer cover and competition to Rodri, who has been in outstanding form for the past two seasons.
He has played just a few minutes in the Premier League, but with the schedule moving to two matches a week, opportunities are set to come more regularly.
Stefan Ortega 6/10:
Looked confident with the ball at his feet and made a couple of decent saves, but will be disappointed by the way he was beaten at his near post for Aubameyang’s opener.
Rico Lewis 7/10:
The 17-year-old continues to impress after breaking into Guardiola’s squad and showed no fear at Camp Nou and looked happy to play as an inverted full-back.
Kyle Walker 7/10:
With Aymeric Laporte and Nathan Ake injured, Guardiola experimented with him at centre-back and he was comfortable in a position he has played in for England.
Ruben Dias 6/10:
Playing alongside a new partner in the centre of defence and was fairly solid, if unspectacular.
Sergio Gomez 7/10:
His first appearance in a City shirt – back in Barcelona where it all started – and made a strong start, getting forward well at left-back.
Kalvin Phillips 6/10:
Showed at times why he was the top target to compete with Rodri and will get better as he grows accustomed to Guardiola’s demands.
Bernardo Silva 6/10:
He received a warm welcome from the Barca fans after being linked with a move to the Spanish club for much of the summer, but had a fairly quiet evening otherwise.
Cole Palmer 7/10:
Grabbed a goal by making the perfect run to be on the end of a typical City move and is never afraid to show his personality on the pitch.
Riyad Mahrez 6/10:
A smartly taken penalty and great work for City’s second, but was too eager too often and got caught offside.
Julian Alvarez 7/10:
Was presented with an easy goal thanks to Pena’s slip, but he was in the right place and worked hard throughout the first half.
Phil Foden 6/10:
A quieter night for the City youngster and will hope to have more impact at the weekend against Crystal Palace.
Subs & Manager
Josh Wilson-Esbrand 6/10:
Another young player that will gain a lot from playing at Camp Nou.
Joao Cancelo 7/10:
Teed up Palmer’s goal with a clever run and nearly scored himself with a fierce effort.
John Stones 5/10:
Playing catch-up after missing the pre-season tour to the US and does not look at his sharpest yet.
Took charge of midfield when he came on.
Kevin De Bruyne 5/10:
Uncharacteristic error when he gave the ball away on the edge of City’s box led to Barca’s second.
Ilkay Gundogan 6/10:
A short run-out after a strong start to the season.
Luke Mbete 6/10:
A terrible clash of heads ruined what should have been a big night.
Erling Haaland 6/10:
The star attraction in the City side for Barca fans, who cheered his arrival before he won a dodgy late penalty.
Oscar Bobb: Too late to mark.
Pep Guardiola 10/10:
The Barca legend was one of the main reasons that the friendly between the two sides went ahead and will have made even more friends, if that’s possible, in Catalunya.