Bolton Wanderers v Barcelona B
Friday 10 August
Reebok Stadium, 8pm Kick-Off
Bolton Wanderers’ pre-season draws to a close on Friday evening when they take on Barcelona B at the Reebok Stadium.
It will be the final opportunity for manager Owen Coyle to take a good look at his players before the npower Championship opener against Burnley at Turf Moor next Saturday.
The Catalan reserves face Wanderers in what is their second and final match of a five-day tour of England.
Having been based in Bolton, they took on Championship newcomers Huddersfield Town at the Galpharm Stadium on Wednesday evening. Second half strikes from Gerard Deulofeu and Sergio Araujo sealed a 2-0 win for the visitors.
Their current Chief Coach, Eusebio Sacristan, played for Barcelona from 1988-1995 in central midfield and was an integral part of the sides that won both the 1989 Cup Winners’ Cup and the 1992 European Cup.
Sacristan returned to the club prior to last season and was appointed manager after Luis Enrique left to take over at Italian club AS Roma. In his first season in charge, the team finished eighth in Liga Adelante – the second tier of Spanish football.
Because the Barcelona senior team plays in La Liga, the Spanish top tier, the B team are ineligible to be promoted, however the squad is bolstered with very talented players all aiming to establish themselves within the senior team setup.
Players who have represented Barcelona B in the past and have gone on to achieve unprecedented success with the senior side include Lionel Messi, Pep Guardiola, Andres Iniesta, Carles Puyol and Xavi.
The Trotters will be aware in no uncertain terms that they are coming up against the future stars of the Spanish giants, but they will want to follow up on Tuesday’s 3-1 over Tranmere with an impressive display and end the pre-season programme with a win.
Benik Afobe is very much looking forward to the challenge tomorrow night and, perhaps, has an added incentive to ensure Wanderers come out on top.
The striker is friends with Barcelona B winger Gerard Deulofeu, who was earlier in the summer rumoured to be attracting interest from Liverpool and QPR, and is aware of the danger he poses.
“Gerard is a year younger than myself and plays for Spain Under-19s. We have been playing against one another since we were around 12,” he said.
“Obviously, I was with Arsenal at tournaments whilst he was there with Barcelona and we became good friends. Barcelona B is a very good team and he is a quality player. He is a fantastic attacking player and a real danger man for them.
“Every time we play against one another we swap shirts afterwards. He follows me on Twitter and I speak to him on the site. We are quite close but obviously, with him being in Spain, we do not meet up at all.
“It will be a good experience for all the lads and will be a good match. It will be nice to be playing at the Reebok Stadium in front of our supporters and hopefully we can win the game.”
Asked whether he will provide a degree of inside knowledge to Owen Coyle and the players considering the relations he has with Gerard, the Arsenal loanee added: “I think the manager has done his research on Barcelona B but if he needs anything from me, of course, I will let him know whatever!”
Admission is priced at £10 for adults and £5 for concessions, with fans able to pay on turnstiles around the ground.