Finally, we’re here! The first friendly match of the season is here, as Barça will meet Olot. The preparations for the 2022-23 season continues with a local friendly against Catalan side UE Olot. Xavi Hernández called up the following 21 players for Wednesday’s preseason debut:
Goalkeepers: 1. Marc-André ter Stegen, 13. Iñaki Peña
Defenders: 2. Sergiño Dest, 4. Mika Mármol, 15. Chadi Riad, 18. Alejandro Balde, 22. Àlex Valle, 25. Arnau Casas
Midfielders: 5. Franck Kessie, 6. Miralem Pjanic, 7. Álex Collado, 8. Pedri, 14. Nico González, 16. Pablo Torre, 21. Marc Casadó, 24. Antonio Aranda
Forwards: 10. Ansu Fati, 11. Ez Abde, 12. Fabio Blanco, 17. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, 23. Ilias Akhomach
Most squad still unavailable
The squad having only been together for a little over a week and 12 players having just returned from vacation after international commitments in June, it is understandable that the first squad list of preseason has quite a few names that fans won’t instantly recognize. A total of 11 players from Barça Atlétic and the under-19s are called up for this one, including the very exciting Pablo Torre who has a chance to be the new Pedri or Gavi and make an improbable rise to first team stardom if he can shine in preseason.
Other names of note include Dest and Pedri, back after missing the end of last season through injury, Ansu Fati who is hoping for an injury-free preseason to go into the new campaign at 100%, and new signing Franck Kessie who has impressed in training and is ready to contribute right away.
As for the absences, it’s quite the list: Ronald Araujo, Andreas Christensen, Samuel Umtiti, Eric García, Óscar Mingueza, Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets, Frenkie De Jong, Gavi, Martin Braithwaite and Memphis Depay have just returned from vacation and miss out for this one, while Ferran Torres has a minor foot injury and Gerard Piqué isn’t fully fit to take part just yet.
Predicted starting XI (4-3-3):
Ter Stegen; Dest, Kessie, Mármol, Balde; Pedri, Nico, Torre; Ez Abde, Aubameyang, Fati
The match kicks off at 7pm CET (Barcelona), 6pm BST/WAT (UK & Nigeria), 1pm ET, 10am PT (USA), 10.30pm IST (India), and you can join us to follow and comment all the action.
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