A midweek clash between two European heavyweights would normally be reserved for the Champions League, but on Wednesday night, Barcelona and Manchester City played a friendly match that ended in a 3-3 tie.
The timing and purpose of the match piqued many people’s interest, as it is unusual for teams to play a friendly game in the middle of a league season. This game, however, was significant for reasons other than football.
This game was played to raise funds for research into a cure for the ALS disease. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis is a degenerative neurodegenerative disease with a life expectancy of four to five years.
Juan Carlos Unzue, a former Barcelona assistant manager and close friend of Pep Guardiola, the former Catalan giants manager who is now in charge of Manchester City, was diagnosed with ALS in 2020.
Unzue kicked off the match in front of 91,062 fans in emotional scenes at Camp Nou and even addressed the Barcelona players in the locker room.
“I thank Barcelona and Manchester City first. I want to thank everyone who came here, everyone who bought a ticket, and everyone who donates. Everyone who is fighting against the disease,” the former Barcelona player was quoted as saying by the Spanish media.
Guardiola said post-match: “The artist here is Unzué, who made this possible, because of his stubbornness and all his people pushing and pushing to do it. It’s been a beautiful summer night, the stadium was full, and it was a fun game, six goals, chances for both sides. Congratulations.”
As for the match itself, it ended in an exciting 3-3 draw!
City took the lead early in the game after a mistake by Barcelona goalkeeper Inaki Pena, as Julian Alvarez poached the ball and scored with a clinical finish.
Barcelona responded in eight minutes. Sergio Busquets guided a Jordi Alba free kick to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who scored. Two of the three players involved in the goal have played for Guardiola.
In the second half, Frenkie De Jong scored from a Memphis Depay assist in the 66th minute, and Guardiola’s side responded in just four minutes.
Cole Palmer scored from a Joao Cancelo cross in his sixth match for Manchester City, tying the game.
Memphis Depay continued to be the difference for the Blaugrana when he headed in Sergio Roberto’s low cross, giving Barcelona a temporary lead in the match.
While the game appeared to be over, a last-second penalty conceded by Barcelona’s Andreas Christensen gave Man City a chance to equalise for the second time in the game.
Riyad Mahrez made no mistake this time, executing a calm finish to end the match all-square after 90 minutes of tense football.