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The team responded to the criticism by turning in a fine display to beat a lucklustre Inter Milan 5-0 in tonight’s Joan Gamper. Before the game the club remembered Antonio Puerta by having the team run out all wearing the number 16 Sevilla shirt that he wore. There was also a remembrance for Nicolau Casaus who died earlier this month.
Barça started well with two goals in the first twelve minutes. For the first Xavi robbed the ball in the Inter half and slid a pass to Giovani dos Santos who was playing his first game at Camp Nou, Giovani surged into the penalty area and was brought down. Ronaldinho scored from the resulting penalty high to Toldo’s left.
Then it was Touré’s turn to win the ball and feed Giovani. This time the young Mexican cut in from the right side of the area to lash a fierce left footer into the back of the net.
Touré gave a commanding performance and showed he is not just a defensive powerhouse. He showed some very good passing including another pass to Giovani who was unlucky not to score again. He also showed that he might score a few goals in the Barça shirt, he had one header saved well by Toldo, then he had an effort from 25 yards saved, but in the 38th minute came the goal of the game. Ronaldinho passed square to Touré and there seemed little danger as he touched the ball forward, but he then unleashed a corker of a shot from close to 30 yards out which flew in past Toldo’s despairing dive.
With it 3-0 at half time Barça made several changes. Jorquera, Zambrotta, Marquez, Abidal, Xavi, Giovani and Ronaldinho came off to be replaced by Valdés, Thuram, Milito, Sylvinho, Iniesta, Messi and Eto’o. After only two minutes on the pitch Eto’o pulled up with what seemed to be a strained muscle, and despite showing signs that he wanted to continue, he was replaced by Thiaggo Motta who was greeted by a few whistles when he came on. Representives from Atletico Madrid were in the stand alongside Motta’s agent so there seems to be a definite chance that Motta will move very soon.
The second half was less lively with both teams keeping something in reserve for their league games this weekend. Leo Messi played well, his best moment set up Andrés Iniesta for the fourth goal. Motta got Barça’s fifth when he headed home Deco’s corner.
It has to be said that Inter were pretty poor and certainly didn’t look anything like Italian champions. Barça will be encouraged by their performance but should not get carried away as few teams will play as half-heartedly at Camp Nou as Inter did tonight. The most positive thing to be taken from the game was Touré Yaya’s performance, but there were also good games from Giovani, Deco and Messi. Giovani has had a great pre-season and if he gets the chance to play will certainly score goals. Deco looked better today, it would be fantastic if he could find the form of his first two seasons.
Thierry Henry played well in the first half but looked tired in the second, I’m sure he needs a few more games before we see him fully fit. And Gabi Milito had so little to do it is hard to pass any judgement.
Today’s team: Jorquera (Valdés 45); Zambrotta (Thuram 45), Oleguer, Marquez (Milito 45), Abidal (Sylvinho 45); Xavi (Iniesta 45), Touré (Crosas 66), Deco, Giovani (Messi 45), Henry, Ronaldinho (Eto’o 45 (Motta 50))
Nic writes at the Barcelona blog.