Barcelona’s first ever trip to Australia is set to be historic in more ways than one.
The Spanish club are due to play the A-Leagues All Stars in a friendly match on Wednesday, May 25 in Sydney.
That game comes less than 72 hours after Barcelona’s La Liga season concludes against Villarreal on Sunday, May 22.
Due to time difference, their clash against Villarreal takes place on Monday, May 23 at 6am (AEST) in Australia, highlighting the short turnaround the club will have to deal with between games.
To make matters more complicated, over 17,000 kilometres separate Barcelona and Sydney, with commercial flights between the two cities requiring multiple stopovers and travel times generally well in excess of 24 hours.
With time not on their side, Barcelona have chartered a Qantas Boeing 787-9 that will operate the first non-stop flight from the Spanish city to Australia.
⚠️ Qantas operará un vuelo charter entre Barcelona y Darwin (posteriormente continuará a Sydney) el próximo 23 de mayo llevando a bordo de un Boeing 787-9 de 236 plazas al @FCBarcelona.
Por primera vez en la historia se operará un vuelo sin escalas entre Barcelona y Australia. pic.twitter.com/EOEEqLhYnS
— Aeropuerto Barcelona-El Prat (@Aeropuerto_BCN) May 11, 2022
Just hours after playing Villarreal, the team are set to depart El Prat airport on Monday at 2am (local time), according to Spanish outlet COPE.
The Catalans first stop Down Under will be Darwin, to allow the plane to refuel, before they complete the final leg of their journey to Sydney.
Even with that unique flight path, the team are unlikely to land in Sydney until the early hours of May 24.
An open training session involving both Barcelona and the A-Leagues All Stars is scheduled to take place that night at Accor Stadium.
Their friendly is then set to kick off on Wednesday, May 25 at 8.05pm (AEST).
Barca’s whirlwind trip to Australia will then see them land back in Spain on Friday at 1.20am (local time) as players are released for the off-season.
The Spanish giants have never played in Oceania before and are also set to travel to the United States for pre-season games in July.
We are coming, Australia pic.twitter.com/GdYs3Y6We8
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) May 23, 2022
Why is Barcelona playing in Australia?
While the timing of the match isn’t exactly ideal for Barcelona and is logistically daunting, it appears the New South Wales government, among others, managed to pull some strings to bring the team Down Under.
Australia is open for business again after spending two years without international tourists due to COVID-19 and this game is being seen as an ideal way to showcase Sydney and Australian football.
“The FC Barcelona v A-League All Stars match will generate significant international interest and put Australian football back in the international spotlight,” the NSW Minister for Tourism and Sport Stuart Ayres said in April.
“It’s an incredible opportunity to showcase both our domestic professional A-League and our beautiful Harbour City to the world.
“The club has the largest social media presence of any football brand in the world, with more than 396 million followers across its social media platforms. Bringing that star power to Sydney will highlight the city’s attractions and world-class events calendar to football fans around the globe, turbocharging the NSW visitor economy on its road to recovery.”