FC Barcelona

Barcelona vs. Leon: How Barca Will Line Up in Joan Gamper Trophy

BARCELONA, SPAIN - AUGUST 17:  Neymar looks on during a FC Barcelona training session at Ciutat Esportiva on August 17, 2014 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)
Alex Caparros/Getty Images
Jason PettigroveContributor IAugust 17, 2014

Barcelona take on Club Leon at Camp Nou in the Joan Gamper Trophy, the traditional curtain-raiser to the start the season.

A whole day choc full of activities for all of the family is book-ended by a festival of football that is always a guaranteed sell-out.

The Joan Gamper Trophy is always a sell out at Camp Nou.
The Joan Gamper Trophy is always a sell out at Camp Nou.Emilio Morenatti/Associated Press

The reason? It's the time when the big guns traditionally return to pre-season action.

Those supporters pining for Lionel Messi and Neymar to take their place in the squad will get their wish.

A surprise where the latter is concerned because of the nature of the injury sustained in the World Cup. Yet the Brazilian is playing a full part in training with seemingly no ill-effects.

Lionel Messi and Neymar will be back in action for the first time this pre-season.
Lionel Messi and Neymar will be back in action for the first time this pre-season.Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

He may not play the full 90 minutes but he is sure to play some part, perhaps just the first 45.

Fully rested after his own World Cup exertions, Messi will relish the chance for some semi-competitive action before the La Liga programme kicks off in just a week's time.

They'll be joined up front by Luis Suarez, a late addition to the team after the decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport allowed him to train with the squad and partake in any friendlies.

This is the last chance for Luis Enrique to tinker with his line-up, but we are likely to see a first-choice XI for the first half at least.

Luis Enrique is likely to start with a full strength XI.
Luis Enrique is likely to start with a full strength XI.Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

Sergio Busquets will anchor the midfield allowing the effervescence of Ivan Rakitic and Andres Iniesta to cause problems for the Mexican outfit.

The surging and incisive runs of the Croatian will perfectly complement the trickery and guile of "El Illusionista" and a high quality of pass accuracy will provide an intriguing comparison with Xavi Hernandez, who will also feature.

Helsinki saw firsthand the problems that both will create in the midfield, and those teams wary of the threat posed by Barca's front three would do well to remember just how easily the Blaugrana midfield will carve them open given half the chance.

Ivan Rakitic encompasses the drive and high-tempo game that Luis Enrique is looking to introduce.
Ivan Rakitic encompasses the drive and high-tempo game that Luis Enrique is looking to introduce.Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

Jeremy Mathieu and Gerard Pique will start in a new-look central defensive pairing, whilst Jordi Alba and Dani Alves will complete a back four that has height, pace and power aplenty.

Marc-Andre ter Stegen would surely have played but was injured in training and now faces two to three weeks on the sidelines.

Claudio Bravo will start with third-in-line Jordi Masip likely to play the second period. Expected wholesale changes at half-time will see the crowd get to enjoy the silky skills of Alen Halilovic, Munir El Haddadi and more.

Formational variety should be closely watched throughout this one to see if Enrique is brave enough to go with a rumoured 3-2-3-2, per Mundo Deportivo, (via Tom Conn of Inside Spanish Football), or if he sticks with the 4-3-3 template that has generally served the Blaugrana well over the years.

Rafa Marquez will say a last goodbye to Camp Nou after his new club Hellas Verona gave special permission for his participation in the fixture.
Rafa Marquez will say a last goodbye to Camp Nou after his new club Hellas Verona gave special permission for his participation in the fixture.Ricardo Mazalan/Associated Press/Associated Press

Opponents Club Leon have recently lost talisman and former Barca stalwart Rafa Marquez, who has signed for Hellas Verona, per Sky Sports, (via Fox Sports), however, in a unique twist, his new club are prepared to let the Mexican enjoy a final goodbye at Camp Nou, per Pavel Ibarra Meda of Soccerly.

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