Barcelona got their pre-season campaign underway this evening, taking on Gimnastic at Estadi Johan Cruyff and coming away with a strong 4-0 win.
Ronald Koeman fielded a youthful lineup with many of his first-teamers not yet back in full training, although he did include the likes of Sergino Dest, Gerard Pique and Sergi Roberto.
It was Rey Manaj, however, who got the blaugrana off the mark on the hour, the 24-year-old Barcelona B man from Albania letting rip with a golazo to give his team the lead.
Barcelona dominated possession, not much of a surprise given Gimnastic were reduced to ten men in the 38th minute after Alex Quintanilla Urionabarrenetxea saw a red card.
Alex Collado doubled Barcelona’s lead heading into the final five minutes, the promising youngster seeing his deflected effort steer past the goalkeeper after carrying it forward well.
Manaj popped up again in the 86th and 90th minutes to complete a remarkable hat-trick and put himself in the thoughts of all Barcelona fans – for tonight, at least.
FULL TIME! pic.twitter.com/aqLWPPh5fe
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) July 21, 2021
“I’m going to work to the maximum to have minutes in the first team,” Collado said post-game as carried by Mundo Deportivo.
“I won’t return to Barcelona B. The intention is to continue working and stay at Barcelona. Nothing can be ruled out, but the intention is to be in the first team.
“The team is psyched, working hard. The first days are tough to get physically sharp. The preparation phase is important, especially physically.
“These games are important for us. The match was a test; we’re happy with the victory and the performance we gave.”