Barcelona's magic runs dry in 3-1 loss to Manchester United in International Champions Cup, Arda Turan unveiled

July 26, 2015

Santa Clara, Calif. -- In front of a sold-out crowd of 68,414, some 80 percent of which was pro-Barcelona, the magic of the Catalan club ran dry, as FC Barcelona fell 3-1 to Manchester United in an International Champions Cup match at Levi's Stadium, home of the San Francisco 49ers.

Manchester United scored early when Ashley Young chipped a corner to Wayne Rooney in the 8th minute.  Rooney's header put Manchester United up 1-0, and sucked the energy from the stadium as many fans continued to file into their seats for the sellout game.

Near the press box, one exasperated fan was heard shouting as he ascended the stadium's stairs, “What? I missed a goal!”

He wasn’t the only bewildered American fan on a day when FC Barcelona was missing two of its biggest stars -- Argentina’s Lionel Messi and Brazil's Neymar. Both were absent from all of the International Champions Cup matches Barcelona played while in the U.S.

“Wait what Messi is not playing,” one incredulous fan said from the upper decks.

Messi, who many feel is the greatest player in the world, ostensibly missed the tour because of his participation in the 2015 Copa America, a South American tournament. Neymar was given a similar pass by Barcelona's coach even though Neymar played limited minutes in the Copa De America.

In addition, a proposed friendly match in San Francisco in September between Brazil and Argentina has also been cancelled, meaning it might be a while before American fans get a chance to see these South American stars stateside.

While the no show of Messi and Neymar disappointed many of the fans, forward Luis Suarez capitalized on the absence of his more famous South American co-stars.

Suarez missed the Copa America tournament because he was completing his nine match suspension from FIFA for biting Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini in the 2014 World Cup. Without him, Uruguay still managed  to reach the quarterfinals, but lost to eventual tournament winner Chile.

On Saturday, Suarez seemed eager to hustle through any rust on the pitch, and was almost reckless in the aggression he applied.  The Uruguayan national displayed some nice moves, first with a dummy near the box in the 52nd minute that paid off in a decent chance, and later in the 61st minute when he had another opportunity to score.

Overall, Suarez had two shots which hit the post, just one indicator of the bad luck Barcelona experienced in the match.

While most fans in the stadium were rooting for Barcelona, American referee Baldomero Toledo's whistle seemed to favor Manchester United.  England’s attacking midfieler Jesse Lingard made the issue mute however, with a goal at the 65 minute mark.

Barcelona’s Rafinha salvaged the honor of his club by converting a crossed ball into a goal in the very last minute of regulation time.

Still, Manchester United answered right back as Adnan Januzaj, the Kosovar-Albanian winger who also plays for the Belgian national team, found the net against a confused Barcelona side one minute into stoppage time. Januzaj, who was a big part of the Belgium’s 2014 FIFA World Cup campaign, is only 20-years-old and will be an exciting player to watch develop.

While some billed the match as a rematch of the 2011 UEFA Champions League Final, neither coach took the match as seriously as Suarez. Late in the second half, Manchester United even swapped out all 11 of its players in a “clown car” type exchange.

In the press-conference following the match, Barcelona’s Luis Enrique downplayed the event somewhat, stating that he was satisfied with the result.  He noted that the “dry-pitch” at the sunny stadium also had an effect on the game.

Arda Turan Unveiled

On hand Saturday as well was FC Barcelona’s newest star, Arda Turan, who gamely trotted onto the sideline in white boots with black socks.

As much as Luis Suarez might have wanted the midfielder on the pitch with him, Turan, who has been described as the Turkish version of Messi, was unable to play due to FIFA rules. A FIFA penalty against FC Barcelona will prevent Turan from playing with the Catalan club until January.

Last season, Turan played with Atletico Madrid and earned a Europa League title with the club. He also won a Turkish league title with Istanbul powerhouse Galatarsay.

Speaking at a patio press conference at the San Francisco St. Regis where the team stayed, Turan noted:
“The Turkish people love FC Barcelona. When I came to Barcelona there were many people who were very happy. This is really important to me. I want to be a good example for my country and my people. This is more than everything for me because (my people) love FC Barcelona and when (Turkish) children watch Barcelona they learn to love sports."

Turan also participated in a press conference to announce a new humanitarian partnership between FC Barcelona, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Global Citizen, with the goal of fighting poverty.

After the event, Turan, whose English is limited, declined to speak to reporters, but took some time to sign memorabilia from some of the younger fans who waited for hours in front of the hotel to meet one of their favorite Barcelona stars.

By Joseph Hammond
Contributing Writer for

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