It’s not often that top European football clubs pause their campaigns to match up in a mid-season friendly, but that’s exactly what Barcelona and Man City are doing as the two meet at the Camp Nou on Wednesday.
The teams are getting together for a charity match to support a former assistant coach of Pep Guardiola’s, with the match dubbed “A Great Game for a Greater Cause.”
Both clubs have begun their league campaigns to mixed results. Man City were held by Newcastle in a wild 3-3 draw on Sunday in Premier League action, while Barcelona were blanked 0-0 in their La Liga opener before bouncing back for a 4-1 win over Real Sociedad.
Each team should feature a strong starting lineup, as the two clubs look to put on a show in support of a mutual friend and colleague.
LIVE BLOG: Follow along with highlights & commentary as Barcelona meet Man City in a friendly
The match has been set up to support ALS research on behalf of former Pep Guardiola assistant Juan Carlos Unzue, who was diagnosed with the disease in early 2020.
Unzue was an assistant at Barcelona from 2003-2010 and again from 2014-2017. He overlapped with Guardiola at the club from 2007-2010 before being hired away as the manager of Numancia. Unzue then took charge of Racing Santander before joining Celta Vigo as an assistant and then returning to Barcelona.
The 55-year-old would take charge of Celta Vigo and Girona before his health forced him to retire. Unzue also played briefly for Barcelona during his playing career, making five appearances for the club at goalkeeper between 1988-1990.
All ticket sales and in-stadium match proceeds will go towards ALS research, with the game benefitting the Luzon Foundation.
Win, lose, or draw, tomorrow’s match is much more than a game. We’re all united in the fight against ALS 💚
We can’t wait to see you tomorrow at Spotify Camp Nou, @ManCity! Let’s do this together 🤝
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USA: Champions League broadcaster CBS Sports Network will be carrying the match in the USA with that channel available to stream on fuboTV.
International: The club friendly will be broadcast around the globe via both clubs’ premium streaming services.
Barcelona will make the match available via BarcaTV+, while Man City is making the match accessible on both of the club’s streaming services City+ and Man City Recast.
City+ is a season-long subscription service to access all Man City content, similar to BarcaTV+, while Recast is a more cost-friendly pay-per-view subscription service offered by the Premier League side.
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🥰 Juan Carlos Unzué, de visita en la Ciutat Esportiva del @FCBarcelona
🤝 Mañana los culés se enfrentarán al @ManCity en un amistoso benéfico
💪 Se recaudarán fondos para la investigación de la ELA
📻 #PartidazoCOPE pic.twitter.com/4rzWSWyOMS
Barcelona struggled to match up against a feisty Real Sociedad side through the first half last weekend, but Ansu Fati’s introduction early in the second period changed the game and led the Blaugrana to a 4-1 win.
Robert Lewandowski scored his first two Barcelona goals in that bounce-back win, including his first 44 seconds into the game. Xavi has a wealth of attacking options to support the Polish striker, and it’ll be a roll of the dice each game to figure out which trio he’ll go with on the day.
There are no injuries currently for the Barca boss to work around, although the status of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is up in the air given the possibility of his departure to Chelsea. The Gabonese striker does find the starting lineup, with Lewandowski on the bench.
Despite not yet being registered for La Liga play, defender Jules Kounde features at the back, and Sergio Busquets returns from suspension in Barcelona’s last league match against La Real. Alongside Busquets is Frenkie de Jong whose transfer saga continues to press on.
Barcelona starting lineup (4-3-3): Pena (GK) — Alba, Pique, Kounde, Roberto — Kessie, Busquets, de Jong — Torres, Aubameyang, Raphinha.
Barcelona subs (14): Ter Stegen (GK), Tenas (GK), Dest, Araujo, Christensen, Garcia, Balde, Pjanic, Pedri, Gavi, Torre, Depay, Lewandowski, Dembele.
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola assured fans that the club would deploy a strong starting lineup, telling reporters upon the announcement of the match, “We’re going to bring all the big guns, don’t worry.”
However, there are a few injuries for the Premier League side to contend with. Most notably, Nathan Ake picked up an early injury against Newcastle on Sunday and did not travel with the squad to Barcelona, replaced by Ruben Dias on Tyneside.
Aymeric Laporte is reportedly close to returning from his long-term ACL injury, but is not yet available. Jack Grealish missed the Newcastle game with a knock, and while he traveled to Spain for the match, his status is unclear.
Man City most recent starting lineup (4-3-3): Ortega (GK) — Lewis, Walker, Dias, Gomez — Phillips, Silva, Palmer — Mahrez, Alvarez, Foden.
Man City subs (12): Ederson (GK), Carson (GK), Wilson-Esbrand, Stones, Cancelo, Mbete, Gundogan, Rodri, Bobb, De Bruyne, Knight, Haaland.
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.@PepTeam meets Juan Carlos Unzue ahead of tomorrow’s match 💚#ManCity | #TeamALS pic.twitter.com/wa9xQ2UpbS