Football Features

Six things you might have missed from Barcelona’s 6-0 demolition of Inter Miami

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 4:11, 20 July 2022

Barcelona opened their US Tour in style as they thrashed Inter Miami 0-6 at the DRV PNK Stadium.

Xavi’s side obliterated Phil Neville’s, with two different XI’s in each half both scoring three times. Here’s what you might have missed.

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Raphinha is a real one

While Nico Gonzalez picked up where he left off against Olot with another commanding display at the base of midfield marking him out as the heir to Sergio Busquets, the shining star of the first-half was Raphinha.

The big money Brazilian signing was making his debut and was absolutely flying from the first minute. At times he was perhaps too eager and overran the ball, or simply blitzed into defenders, but on the whole he was deliriously dynamic. A hurricane of movement impossible for Inter Miami to intercept.

Raphinha set-up Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s opening goal with what might have been a tackle but was definitely an intentional touch, and then doubled the Blaugrana’s lead with a lovely first-time finish from a Alejandro Baldé cross. He finished the half by returning the favour, sending Ansu through on goal with a beautiful pass for his second assist.

One goal and two assists is not bad for your first 45 minutes at the club. Duck and cover, sports fans, despite coming from a relegation battle with Leeds, it seems Barcelona may have got themselves a real one right here!

Frenkie’s (at the) back!

After a bit of extra holiday to allow for his involvement in the end-of-season internationals, Frenkie de Jong returned to the Barcelona side (along with the other internationals) and, well, given all the talk about his future it was thus very interesting to see him play…

…at centre-back!

Yes, coming out of half-time, Barcelona had Sergio Busquets replace Nico Gonzalez at defensive midfield while Pedri and the excellent again Franck Kessie were replaced by teenage terrors Gavi and Pablo Torré.

This meant that Frenkie came into the side alongside Ronald Araujo in defence. And first thing’s first: he actually played really well in the role. Starting from deep gave Frenkie the leeway he needed to drive forward with the ball, and he would often surge deep into the Inter Miami half with the ball at his feet, creating uncomfortable overloads.

Of course he could do this in a friendly because Barcelona were already winning 3-0 when he showed up and Inter Miami are not on their level. Could he play there in a competitive game? Let’s see. But given the form of Pedri, Gavi and Kessie, it seems like poor Frenkie might just have to play defence if he really wants to stay in Catalunya!

Phil bests Gary

Back in 2016 on February 3rd, Barcelona absolutely massacred Valencia 7-0 in the Copa del Rey. Sergio Busquets ran the show, Leo Messi scored a hat-trick and Luis Suárez bagged four goals as Los Che were ritually humiliated.

Why is this relevant? Valencia’s manager that day was Gary Neville, elder brother of Inter Miami boss Phil Neville.

And while Phil was always deemed to be the inferior player, now he can definitively say that he is a better manager as he only lost 0-6 to Barcelona, rather than the 7-0 loss his brother suffered.

Wherefore art thou, Romeo?

Inter Miami owner, David Beckham, has four children. One of them, Romeo, is on the books at Inter Miami (after failing to make the grade at Arsenal). He plays for Inter Miami II, the club’s B-team, in the MLS Next Pro. He has yet to make his debut in the MLS proper.

Well now he’s played against Barcelona. Yes, seriously, Romeo Beckham played for his dad’s team against Barcelona. Admittedly only for five minutes right at the end, but still! Moreover, the manager’s son Harvey Neville played the entire second-half.

All of this would be fine, perhaps, in a game of no consequence like a pre-season friendly. But in his press conference on July 15, Neville said: “my team and myself think it’s the biggest match in the club’s history,” which makes it odd that he let his son play half of it, and then throw on Instagram sensation Romeo Beckham right at the end.

The Looming Shadow of Lewandowski

With new striker Robert Lewandowski watching from the stands (having looked ripped as hell when training pre-match) Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang played with verve and vigour, linking with team-mates and scoring the first goal with a delightfully deft chip. Will competition from the Pole drag more greatness from Auba?

Memphis Depay came out from half-time playing like someone with a point to prove. The pressure of shining in the shirt that Lewandowski wants to wear, when the club is contemplating selling him to make room for all their new signing, seemed to get to him. Memphis was loose with his passing and his finishing was wayward.

He eventually composed himself, however, and set-up Gavi for a lovely fourth goal and then scored Barcelona’s fifth with a delicious turn and shot. He is likely to leave, but even if he does, this game was a great advert for how good he can be, and how mentally tough he is.

Where was Xavi?

Barcelona played in Xavi’s image against Inter Miami, but Xavi himself was absent! The coach wasn’t on the sidelines and he hasn’t been in training either. So where is he?

It turns out that the Islamophobic anti-Iran policy of the USA has impacted Barcelona’s plans. In the course of his job managing Qatari side Al-Sadd, Xavi has visited Iran three times in the last five years. This required extra documentation to be submitted in order for Xavi to be granted a Visa to enter the country, and that paperwork simply hasn’t gone through yet.

So Barcelona remain a team without a coach. When will Xavi get to the USA? Only time will tell.