The City of Angels is set to provide the backdrop for a classic showdown between two footballing titans: Arsenal and Barcelona. In the waning phase of their US tour, the Gunners are gearing up for a clash with the mighty Blaugranas, who are returning to the field after an unfortunate bout of illness.
The Arsenal-Barcelona Saga: A Quick Glance
Rewind to 2016 – the last time these two giants collided on the pitch, Barcelona emerged victorious with a 3-1 win. Now, they stand ready to renew their rivalry on the turf of SoFi Stadium, Los Angeles. A glorious chapter awaits to be added in the tale of football rivalry, featuring two sides with a checkered past: Arsenal with one victory and Barcelona with four in their last five encounters.
A Mixed Bag: Arsenal’s Journey so far
Arsenal’s journey stateside has been marked by a bouquet of diverse performances. Following a modest 1-1 draw with FC Nurnberg, they rallied to sweep aside the MLS All-Stars. However, the bitter taste of a 2-0 loss to Premier League counterparts, Manchester United, lingered in the air. Undoubtedly, there are concerns to be addressed, yet plenty of room for Mikel Arteta’s squad to find their stride before the 2023/24 season commences.
In the eye of the storm is the duel with La Liga’s champions. A challenging examination paper lies ahead for the Gunners as they look to end their US journey on a high.
Arsenal’s Aces and Unknowns
In the wake of Arsenal’s erratic performances, the spotlight has been on certain players. While Oleksandr Zinchenko remains sidelined, the left-back position is up for grabs between Kieran Tierney and Jakub Kiwior. Leandro Trossard, having impressed so far, might take up Kai Havertz’s mantle, with Thomas Partey or Jorginho possibly stepping in for Declan Rice.
Furthermore, Jurrien Timber, after a commendable performance against United, may retain his place. Eddie Nketiah, on the other hand, has been struggling, leading to speculation that Gabriel Jesus may spearhead the team’s attack, although Folarin Balogun remains a potent contender.
Barcelona: A Mystery Wrapped in a Riddle
Just as a “significant part” of Barcelona’s squad recovers from viral gastroenteritis, team predictions morph into mere guesswork. Alejandro Balde’s ankle injury further complicates the picture, and with Jules Kounde also in doubt, Ronald Araujo might be called upon to fortify the right-back position.
A Night to Remember
This encounter will surely be a spectacle for fans across the globe as the Arsenal-Barcelona saga is set to add another memorable chapter in LA. Mark your calendars for Wednesday, 27 July; the clash kicks off at 03:30 BST / 22:30 ET / 19:30 PT. Let’s see if the Gunners can upset the La Liga champions, or if Barcelona’s prowess will again prove too formidable.