Soccer Champions Tour 2023: Balde & Romeu dominate

The anticipation was palpable as football enthusiasts worldwide eagerly awaited the Soccer Champions Tour 2023, a preseason spectacle that promised to showcase the prowess of top football clubs. The tour was especially significant for Barcelona because it provided insight into the team’s preparations for the upcoming challenges. Among the tour’s hustle and bustle, the performances of Oriol Romeu and Alejandro Balde took the spotlight, leaving spectators and analysts speechless.

This preseason 2023 allows players to regain match fitness while letting the coaching staff fine-tune strategy and the team’s strengths and weaknesses. Fans’ hopes and expectations were high as the team went on this transatlantic adventure to the United States.

Barcelona was scheduled to play against 4 top quality teams in Europe. Juventus, Arsenal, Real Madrid and AC Milan. Unfortunately, their friendly match against Juventus in San Francisco was cancelled after an outbreak of viral gastroenteritis among the Catalan team. Thankfully, they recovered and played the remaining three scheduled games with an almost full squad.

Analysis of Arsenal vs Barcelona:

Few football clashes stir fans’ passion and zeal like an encounter between Arsenal and Barcelona. As we delve into their most recent match, we find ourselves at the crossroads of tradition and evolution. Both teams’ current standing carry the weight of their illustrious histories as they navigate the ever-changing world of modern football. This upcoming encounter is expected to represent their historical rivalry, with each team’s style and approach. This spectacle will continue to captivate fans’ attention and capture the essence of football’s eternal appeal.

Barcelona started their campaign against Arsenal by deploying Ez Abde, who had a good spell with Osasuna last season and the new signing Oriol Romeu, who replaced legendary defensive midfielder Sergio Busquets.

Barca's lineup in Arsenal vs Barcelona 2023
Barca’s lineup against Arsenal

The match got underway with a packed house, an attendance of 70,223 at the gorgeous SoFI Stadium in California. Arsenal are four games into their preseason against a Barcelona team that is making its debut, and the gap in fitness and energy was clear from the start. Out of possession, the Gunners were much quicker and more competitive, and the Blaugrana struggled to deal with Arsenal’s press throughout the half.

But Barca somehow took the lead, thanks to a brilliant solo effort from Ez Abde, who won the ball inside his half and carried it to the other end before finding Raphinha, who forced a great save from Aaron Ramsdale, allowing Robert Lewandowski to score an easy tap-in to give Barca the lead. Arsenal vs Barcelona (0-1)

Robert Lewandowski’s goal after an incredible play from Ez Abde against Arsenal

Arsenal soon responded with a goal from Bukayo Saka following a poor mistake by Andreas Christensen, then Saka had an excellent chance to add his tally after a handball by Ronald Araujo inside the box but missed the penalty terribly. Arsenal vs Barcelona (1-1)

Barca scored again owing to some good fortune when Raphinha’s free-kick deflected off Martin Odegaard and into the net, bringing the game back to life.
Arsenal attacked with quality and intent and equalized when Odegaard’s header found Kai Havertz alone to tap it home. That concludes the half. Arsenal vs Barcelona (2-2)

Mikel Arteta made one change at halfway, while Xavi brought in an entirely new lineup for the final period, focusing on fitness and giving as many players as possible an opportunity to play. Arsenal continued to play intense football with a desire to win, and Leandro Trossard provided them with the double lead in the 55th and 78th minutes. Arsenal vs Barcelona (4-2)

Barca kept attacking and trying to get back into the game, and Ferran Torres made it 4-3 with two minutes left after a superb run and pass by Dembélé. Soon after, Arsenal’s Fábio Vieira scored a fantastic long-range goal that ended any chances of a Barca comeback. Full-time: Arsenal vs Barcelona (5-3)

Arsenal played with high intensity and got the result. For Barcelona, nothing to worry about as this result won’t matter much. However, it was a test for 23 players who featured after a long summer holiday.

Analysis of Barcelona vs Real Madrid:

In the grand tapestry of football history, few rivalries burn as brightly as the eternal clash between Barcelona and Real Madrid. For decades, these two sporting heavyweights have engaged in confrontations that have echoed through time and captivated followers worldwide. This ancient rivalry is carved into the annals of the beautiful game, from great duels of yesteryear to modern-day showdowns.

With each team’s distinct philosophy and star-studded lineups, this match promises to be a testament to their historical feud—a clash that embodies the spirit of fierce competition and unwavering passion that defines El Clasico.

Barca started their second preseason match with a full-fledged playing XI consisting of all the possible starters for this upcoming season.

Barca's lineup for El Clasico 2023 in Dallas
Barca’s lineup against Madrid

The match officially started with an attendance of over 80,000 at the magnificent AT&T Stadium in Dallas. It was intense, and both sides were aggressive in their manners from the word go. Barca dominated the first quarter of an hour and controlled the midfield with the quartet of Oriol Romeu, Frenkie de Jong, Ilkay Gundogan and Pedri Gonzalez. Romeu almost scored in the 4th minute from a volley that crashed into the crossbar.

In the 15th minute, Dembele opened the scoreline with a rocket from a narrow-angle. Barcelona vs Real Madrid (1-0)
In the 20th minute, Ronald Araujo committed a silly penalty by handling the ball in the area, but Vinicius hit the crossbar and missed from the spot.
The outcome and performance were encouraging, but there were two setbacks in the first 45 minutes, as Barca lost Andreas Christensen and Gundogan to suspected muscle injuries. At half-time: Barcelona vs Real Madrid (1-0)

In the 66th minute, Xavi replaced Pedri Gonzalez with Fermin Lopez. The 20-year-old midfielder from La Masia hit a missile outside the box after Sergi Roberto squared to him and gave no chance to Thibaut Courtois to save that ferocious strike. Barcelona vs Real Madrid (2-0)

Fermin Lopez’s goal against Real Madrid

Barcelona killed the game with Ferran Torres beating Courtois to the ball and lifting it over him to give the Catalans the 3-0 lead. Fermin Lopez was again involved in this. He gave a delightful pass over the defence for Torres, who then put the game to bed. Full-time: Barcelona vs Real Madrid (3-0)

Analysis of AC Milan vs Barcelona:

The football world held its breath for a match between the two giants, who clashed in an epic showdown that promised high-octane action and brilliant football. Fans from around the globe eagerly awaited this thrilling matchup, brimming with excitement and anticipation. In the lead-up to the monumental match, both team managers, Xavi Hernandez and Stephano Pioli, strategized to exploit their opponent’s weaknesses while capitalizing on their strengths. The spotlight was on the star players from both teams, with Barcelona’s Robert Lewandowski and AC Milan’s Rafael Leao leading the charge.

After winning the second preseason match, Barca started their third and final match with a mixed starting XI against Milan.

Barca's lineup for AC Milan vs Barcelona 2023
Barca’s lineup against Milan

The match kicked off with an attendance close to 40,000 at the beautiful Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. Barca got off to a fast start by moving the ball quickly and producing decent chances, with most of the attacks coming from the right side, where Raphinha was full of energy and keen to establish himself as the undisputed starter. A corner kick from the Brazilian resulted in few chances for Barca in which Jules Kounde came the closest to a goal when he hit the crossbar, followed by a close-range shot by Ferran Torres, again blocked by the Milan defender.

Milan mostly defended inside their half but had some dangerous counterattacks, and the Barca goalkeeper Inaki Pena was called into action twice and produced two excellent saves against Tijjani Reijnders and Rafael Leao. Barca played better in the first half, but they couldn’t score. At half-time: AC Milan vs Barcelona (0-0)

Xavi made five changes at half-time, and the second half began. On the left flank, Alejandro Balde and Ansu Fati looked like a dynamic duo once again, and it was a Balde pass followed by a magnificent Ansu shot into the top left corner, which gave Barca a deserved lead in 55 minutes. AC Milan vs Barcelona (0-1)

Ansu Fati’s goal against AC Milan

In the 67th minute, Xavi opted to give 16-year-old Lamine Yamal a go, and the La Masia jewel showed glimpses of his incredible skill once again, nearly scoring a spectacular goal with a curling effort from outside the box that went just wide. Recent summer signing Mika Faye debuted, and academy youngsters Alex Valle and Aleix Garrido also featured in the last 5 minutes. They didn’t have enough time to make an impact, and Barca ran out the clock to seal the win. Full-time: AC Milan vs Barcelona (0-1)

This one lacked the intensity of the Arsenal and Madrid games, but the main objective was to avoid injuries in the tour’s final match. The whole team played well and deserved the win. Romeu, Balde, Fati, and Frenkie distinguished out as standout players.

Barcelona player ratings in Soccer Champions Tour 2023:

Rating system:

Before unveiling the player ratings, it is necessary to understand the system used to evaluate their performances. A range of factors is considered, including on and off-the-ball skills, contributions to the team, work rate, consistency, and overall impact on the game. This comprehensive approach ensures a fair assessment of each player’s abilities and effectiveness on the pitch.


PositionPlayer nameMinutes played and Rating out of 10
ArsenalReal MadridAC MilanTotal MinutesTour Avg
GoalkeepersMarc-Andre ter Stegen45690801357
Inaki Pena45509071356
DefendersRonald Araujo4567768482067
Jules Kounde4579076772027
Andreas Christensen4562960746
Alejandro Balde4577684081618
Sergi Roberto4564874561386
Eric Garcia4566178471907
Marcos Alonso4551354561035
Sergino Dest455144235825
Mikayil Faye0066
Alex Valle0055
MidfieldersPedri Gonzalez4566674571567
Frenkie de Jong4577784571677
Ilkai Gundogan4564250876
Oriol Romeu4567678082017
Franck Kessie45600456
Fermin Lopez3462484571037
Marc Casado00106106
Aleix Garrido0066
ForwardsRobert Lewandowski4577654561666
Ousmane Dembele45766801117
Ferran Torres4571474551046
Ansu Fati4561454571046
Ez Abde4571354561036
Lamine Yamal1160236346
ManagerXavi Hernandez6877
Barca player ratings in Soccer Champions Tour 2023

Soccer Champions Tour 2023 was an exciting prelude to the upcoming football season. Barcelona’s journey through the tour revealed moments of greatness and hinted at what was to come. Oriol Romeu and Alejandro Balde‘s post-injury performances brought excitement, leaving fans anxiously awaiting the team’s upcoming challenges. As the final whistle blew, one thing was clear: Barcelona’s preseason in the United States had set the stage for an exciting season ahead.

Next fixture: The last friendly match before the official season kicks off, against Tottenham Hotspur for the Joan Gamper trophy, an annual exhibition event at the recently renovated Barca’s new home Estadi Olimpic Lluis Companys.

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