‘Like a Champions League tie’: Arsenal down Barcelona in eight-goal friendly

Xavi felt Barcelona’s 5-3 friendly defeat by Arsenal in Los Angeles was played with the intensity of a Champions League match.

It was not a great game for defenders as Leandro Trossard scored twice for the Gunners, in the final match of their tour of the US, with Bukayo Saka, new arrival Kai Havertz and Fábio Vieira getting the others, while Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha and Ferran Torres struck for Barcelona.

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“It was a good game for the fans but not so much for the coaches,” Xavi said. “It was up and down. You could tell Arsenal are much further down the line than us [in pre-season]. That said, we were far too soft in defence. There were positives and negatives, though. I said to Mikel at the end of the game, it was like a Champions League tie with the intensity they put in. It was not normal for a friendly, but I understand everyone wants to win. For us, it was our first friendly and we went into it off the back of loads of players having had a bug.”

Barcelona took the lead in the seventh minute when Lewandowski pounced on a rebound but Arsenal were level six minutes after Saka took advantage of an Andreas Christensen error before calmly slotting home.

Saka should have put Arsenal into the lead but dragged a 22nd-minute penalty wide, much to the amusement of the Barcelona fans inside the Sofi Stadium. Barça were back in the lead soon after thanks to a Raphinha free-kick deflecting off the wall to wrongfoot Aaron Ramsdale.

In an end-to-end match, it was unsurprising that Arsenal levelled once more through a Havertz volley from close range after good work by Saka on the right wing.

Two well-taken goals by Trossard after the break put Arsenal in control. Torres pulled one back for Barcelona but Vieira capped off the English side’s victory with a stunning strike from 25 yards into the top corner in the 89th minute.

“It got really competitive for a friendly match – after the first tackle, after the first goal,” Mikel Arteta said of the game’s physicality. “Obviously, in front of 70,000 fans it helps to create an atmosphere. They are elite players, and all want to win, and at the end it got a bit too much at times for a friendly to be fair. But I think we showed all the people that came to watch the game that it was really good.”

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