Courtesy of Auckland City FC

Auckland City FC got a major boost ahead of the FIFA Club World Cup™️ after they drew 1-1 in a friendly match with Barçelona B at the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper today.

The Men’s National League Championship, Chatham Cup, Northern League and OFC Champions League winners gave as good as they got against a Barcelona B side sitting fifth in their competition and featuring some of the club’s most promising talent.

City coach Albert Riera was happy with the performance and result with the Club World Cup now moving sharply into focus.

“It was one of those games where you’re not expected to have the ball a lot against a very very good team in Barcelona B,” Riera said.

“But it was the best test for us before heading off to Morocco and our performance was very good, very positive and we had the ball in good spells.

“Overall our defensive discipline and our courage was very good and we had some good chances and maybe could have won the game.

“It’s massive for us to score a goal here at Barcelona B – my speech to the players before the game was to have the approach that we’re going to have in Morocco.

“Our approach today was to not concede anything, be very disciplined and clever when we have the ball because normally at this level of football you don’t get that opportunity often and I thought we did that very well.

“We conceded an unfortunate goal but apart from that overall we didn’t concede many clear cut chances to a top team with a lot of quality. But there are a lot of things for us to improve on and we’re going to try to do that.”

Barcelona B started the game at a fast pace and penned City in for the first 20 minutes with defender Alpha Diounkou hitting the crossbar with a long range strike and Emre Demir forcing Conor Tracey into a good save after he steered a cross from the club’s new signing from Argentina, Lucas Román, goalwards.

Ryan De Vries – who made his 150th appearance for City – had the best chance of the first half when he skied a volley over goalkeeper Victor Barbera’s crossbar after a rare slip by a Barcelona B defender.

But it was the hosts who took the lead when a high ball sent in from the right deceived Tracey allowing Sergi Rosanas to steer home from close range on 53 minutes.

The game opened up after that as both teams made changes with future challenges in mind. City created three chances in quick succession with a Joe Lee effort cleared off the line, another for substitute Liam Gillion scrambled away, and then a reasonable shout for a penalty when Emiliano Tade appeared to be fouled in the box.

Barcelona B continued to threaten on the counter attack but their momentum was halted when Cam Howieson’s clever pass allowed Tade to break their defensive line and lob a cute finish over the head of substitute goalkeeper Arnau Rafus to make it 1-1.

De Vries said the experience of playing Barcelona B was a special setting to mark 150 games for the club and just the lift City needed ahead of the Club World Cup.

“We knew it was going to be tough, they’re a class outfit and they move the ball around very well and we had good patches and passed the ball well. This was our last game before the Club World Cup and a very good result for us,” De Vries said.

“I feel great to reach 150 games for City, especially here. There’s not many players who reach a milestone like this and can say they did it at Barcelona B. I feel honoured.”

Riera summed up the feeling within the squad when he assessed De Vries contribution to the club over the past decade.

“Ryan De Vries is a fantastic player and a good character to have around. His quality is unique in New Zealand and I’m very happy to have him here. He’s always helping the young players and everyone looks up to him,” he said.

“I think Ryan will give us a lot in the game we have soon in Morocco so I’m very happy for him in achieving this milestone and I’m sure he’ll do well in Tangiers.”

Auckland City FC have one last day of training at the Futbol Salou Sports Complex in Salou, Catalonia, tomorrow before departing in the early hours of January 27 for their team base camp at Tetouan, Morocco.

Match Details
Prestige Friendly, 
Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper, Barçelona
Wednesday 25 January 2023
Barçelona B 1 (Sergi ROSANAS 53′)
Auckland City FC 1 (Emiliano TADE 75′)
HT: 0-0