FC Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez should enforce a huge lineup overhaul for what will be his team’s last friendly on their U.S. preseason tour against AC Milan at the Allegiant Stadium.
Barca arrived in Las Vegas several hours later than planned on Monday afternoon. This was thanks to the transfer market drama currently engulfing the club because of winger Ousmane Dembele’s decision to join Paris Saint-Germain.
The Frenchman was one of the heroes of Saturday’s 3-0 win over Real Madrid, in a Cowboys Stadium edition of El Clasico where youngster Fermin Lopez stole the main headlines.
Scoring the Catalans’ opener on 15 minutes, Dembele quickly became a villain on Sunday after several reports linked him with a switch to PSG through the activation of his €50 million ($55 million) release clause.
More Barcelona coverage from the Associated Press:
NYON, Switzerland (AP) — UEFA confirmed Barcelona’s place in the next Champions League on Thursday though said an investigation into more than $7 million paid to a refereeing official could be reopened if more evidence emerges.
Barcelona’s place in the Champions League group stage worth tens of millions of euros (dollars) – earned by winning the Spanish league last season – could have been at risk from the so-called “Caso Negreira” case.
Court documents show Barcelona paid 7.3 million euros ($7.7 million) from 2001-18 to the company of José María Enríquez Negreira, the former vice president of Spanish soccer’s refereeing committee.
Milan: Again all eyes will be on Christian Pulisic as he continues to sync with the squad. Helping to create space for Rafael Leao, getting into gear is important for the American after a season where he struggled for minutes at Chelsea. It’s a fresh start for Pulisic in Serie A and one that he looks to do well with as Milan look to get the Scudetto back after Napoli’s triumph last season. Stefano Pioli will have a strong squad at his disposal to do that.
Barcelona: After struggling against Real Madrid, this will be an important game for Sergino Dest who is fighting for his future with the club. He’s running out of time to sort out an optimal loan situation if it’s determined that he isn’t in Xavi’s plans but something will have to give sooner than later. With uncertainty surrounding the future of Ousmane Dembele as well, Ferran Torres could get more time to show what he can do on the wing.
Prosecutors in Spain formally accused Barcelona of corruption in sports, fraudulent management and falsification of business documents.
However, no clear allegations of any specific fixed games or referees who were influenced have emerged since UEFA opened its investigation in March.
UEFA competition rules require teams to be removed from one season of European competition if they are implicated in fixing any domestic or international game since April 2007. Further disciplinary punishments could also follow.
UEFA said Thursday that Barcelona is now “provisionally admitted to take part” in the Champions League though a “future decision on admission/exclusion” is still possible. The Champions League group-stage draw is on Aug. 31.
Barcelona has consistently denied any wrongdoing or conflict of interest, saying it paid for technical reports on referees but never tried to influence their decisions in games.
Win back the midfield
In case you have not caught on by now, the USWNT have struggled for some time now under Vlatko Andonovski. Both the Netherlands and Portugal outworked the team in the middle third. It’s become evident that there is enough footage for opposing teams to exploit them in weaker areas, and both European sides committed numbers in the midfield to gain possession. When presented with the challenge of adjusting to create more chances, there was a disconnect between players and frustration settled in.
Ousmane Dembele transfer to PSG is happening
When Ousmane Dembele was not in the matchday squad against AC Milan after starring against Real Madrid, it was clear that the rumoured move to PSG was real.
The Frenchman wore a hoodie on the sidelines, along with another player reported to be on his way out in Franck Kessie. After scoring his goal, Ansu Fati made it a point to give both a hug, another sign that the squad probably knew something.
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