The A-League All Stars can expect a ‘serious’ Barcelona at Accor Stadium on Wednesday night.
The pride of representing the “biggest club in the world” will ensure Barcelona don’t treat Wednesday night’s match against the A-League All Stars at Accor Stadium as an end-of-season stroll in the park.
The Spanish giants arrived in Sydney on a chartered Qantas flight on Tuesday morning about 24 hours after completing their La Liga season with a 2-0 loss to Villarreal.
Thousand of fans were at Sydney airport to greet their heroes, who were happy to sign autographs and have their photos taken.
Barcelona’s touring squad, which includes stars Dani Alves, Jordi Alba, Memphis Depay and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, again treated fans with an open training session at Accor Stadium on Tuesday night.
And while the tourists aim to entertain what’s expected to be a crowd of more than 70,000 at the same venue on Wednesday night, the A-League All-Stars should not expect a friendly encounter against a team determined not to suffer what would be an embarrassing defeat.
“Always a game of Barcelona’s is serious,” club great and the team’s coach Xavi Hernandez said.
“Every minute at Barcelona is a privilege. It’s very important – we are representing Barca.
“Everybody must understand that we are a big club, in my opinion the biggest club in the world, so it’s very important not only the result but the image.
“We are here representing Barcelona and to show our best level in Australia (for) the first time in history, so (you can) imagine that it will be serious.”
Xavi is hoping for a better outcome than the last time he visited Accor Stadium.
The former midfield general was part of Spain’s under-23 squad at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
Spain made it all the way to the final, where they battled Cameroon in front of more than 100,000 fans at what at the time was known as the Olympic Stadium.
Xavi scored in just the second minute and the Spaniards later doubled their lead to be seemingly on the way to a gold medal.
However, Cameroon fought back to level scores at 2-2 before winning gold via a penalty shootout.
Hoping to inflict some more pain on Xavi and Barcelona is A-League All Stars coach Dwight Yorke, who scored twice for Manchester United at Barca’s Camp Nou stadium in 1999.
“Those were epic games against Barca, and of course we went on to win the Champions League that year,” Yorke told A-League website keepup.com.au.
“I know exactly how good they are, but what’s the point in going into management if you won’t embrace a challenge like this?
“Xavi and me have both gone through the process to become a manger, and to be fair he’s further ahead than me – as a player he was second to none and so far he’s done a fine job back at Barca.”