Francisco Seco/Associated Press
Barcelona will compete for the annual Joan Gamper Trophy on Monday, and the 2017 edition of the match will be a special one, as the Catalans have invited Brazilian side Chapecoense to the Camp Nou.
Chapecoense became globally known in November of last year after a deadly plane crash in Colombia decimated the team. A number of initiatives were undertaken to help the club, including this friendly.
As shared by ESPN’s Sam Borden, one survivor of the crash is expected to take part in the match:
Sam Borden @SamBorden
The players of #Chapecoense are heading to Barcelona. Alan Ruschel — who survived the plane crash — is expected to play v. Messi and co. https://t.co/N6qzns6dpr
The Joan Gamper trophy traditionally acts as Barcelona’s dress rehearsal ahead of the upcoming season, giving the home fans an opportunity to see the team at work. The Blaugrana haven’t lost the competition since 2012―when Sampdoria shocked the hosts―and have 39 titles overall.
The last Brazilian team to contest the trophy was Santos in 2013, and it didn’t end well for them―an 8-0 drubbing that completely wiped away the memories of the loss to Sampdoria.
This year’s match will be a special occasion, however, commemorated by the visitors with a special shirt, per Dugout:
💚⭐ Chapecoense’s kit for the friendly vs. @FCBarcelona next week will feature 71 stars to honour the lives lost in the tragic plane crash. https://t.co/LlTniTgREY
Chapecoense will likely receive a heroes’ welcome by the Catalan fans, and there’s every chance the home team will treat this friendly less like a final preparation game and more as an exhibition match. The Brazilians are still rebuilding their squad, which has a ton of on-loan players, and on paper, they are no match for the La Liga giants.
Lionel Messi and his team-mates won’t run up the score like they did against Santos, a far more celebrated club with eight Serie A titles on its resume.
Manu Fernandez/Associated Press
The fans will also get the chance to meet new manager Ernesto Valverde as part of the pre-match festivities, and the coach will want to use the opportunity to experiment with his squad one final time.
Don’t expect the top stars to log heavy minutes―they will have to be fit for the first leg of the Copa del Rey against Real Madrid, less than one week after Monday’s outing.