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The third and final match of the United States tour sees Barcelona face AC Milan at the Levi’s Stadium in their final game in this year’s International Champions Cup. Barça actually came close to winning this “competition” last year, but didn’t. This time they won’t even have a shot, but it really does not matter.
What does matter is how amazing the first team players who were in action for about 90 minutes combined in the first two games played. Ernesto Valverde gave his team a real shot at playing the 4-3-3 formation again, and both Arthur and Rafinha have had monster starts to their preseason. The two are looking like locks to start the Spanish Supercup against Sevilla next week, and another very good performance from the duo on Saturday will go a long way in ensuring that.
As for Milan, there’s a very interesting player to watch: Alen Halilovic, the former Barça wonderkid who has had some tough years since leaving Camp Nou but has earned another shot to play for a giant Europen club. Let’s see how good he look against some of his former teammates.
Barcelona (4-3-3): Cillessen; Semedo, Marlon, Lenglet, Cucurella; Rafinha, Roberto, Arthur; Malcom, Alcácer, Munir
Milan (4-3-3): Donnarumma; Abate, Musacchio, Romagnoli, Calabria; Kessié, Locatelli, Bertolacci; Suso, Cutrone, Çalhanoglu
We already know the script for this preseason: first team puts on a show in the first half, Barça B youngsters suffer quite a lot in the second half against stronger opposition. Maybe Valverde gives his first teamers something like 60-70 minutes, so maybe we might hold a lead for once: 3-1 Barça.
After a series of negative articles chronicling their financial tribulations, Milan are back in the news for all the right reasons. With former player and coach Leonardo installed as sporting director and investment firm Elliott Management Corporation now steering the club, it’s their transfer dealings that are filling the headlines.
Juventus pair Gonzalo Higuain and Mattia Caldara have arrived as part of a swap deal which sees Leonardo Bonucci head the other way – an arrangement considered a coup for Leonardo and his team.
This follows the €20 million acquisition of striker Nikola Kalinic from Fiorentina and the free transfer of Pepe Reina from Napoli. The Italians should be in a positive mood heading in to this clash against the reigning La Liga champions despite brewing uncertainty about the future of boss Gennaro Gattuso.
Barcelona have already spent over €130 million on new recruits this summer with winger Malcom arriving from Bordeaux, centre back Clement Lenglet making the switch from La Liga rivals Sevilla, 21-year-old midfielder Arthur moving from Gremio and Arturo Vidal joining from Bayern Munich.
Both sides still have well over two weeks to prepare for the new season and both will look to bounce back from recent defeats.