On July 21, FC Barcelona began their pre-season preparations for the 2007-08 season and have enjoyed trips to Scotland, China, Japan and Germany during their first month back in action.
After a month of holidays, FranK Rijkaard's squad were called back and, unlike in previous years
where international commitments had meant that players returned sporadically, the Dutch coach was
able to start the campaign with virtually his entire squad. The only absentees in the first few
weeks were Leo Messi, Gaby Milito and Rafael Márquez following their appearances in the Copa
América at the end of last term. Carles Puyol and Edmílson were present, but could not take part in
the training as they conitnued to recover from their respective injuries.
For the first phase of pre-season, Rijkaard called up Oier Olazábal, Jesús Olmo, Marc Valiente, Marc Crosas and Domas from the B team. The quintet travelled to St. Andrews in Scotland as well being included in the tour of the Far East.
Also included in the squad were Gio Dos Santos and Bojan Krkic. The two youngsters are on the verge of becoming permanent members of the first team squad and were promoted to gain experience.
After undergoing a series of medical tests and enjoying their first training session in Barcelona, the squad set for Scotland on their first trip of the new campaign. St. Andrews was chosen as the base venue for the six-day stay and the players were able to train in the morning and afternoon in the cool conditions. The first game of the two-match trip, saw Barça beat Dundee United 0-1 in Tannadice thanks to a late goal from Thierry Henry. The second encounter was more conclusive as the Blaugrana defeated Hearts 1-3 at Murrayfield with Dos Santos bagging a brace and Ronaldinho netting one.
The players returned to Barcelona for a brief stay before they boarded a plane on August 3 and headed off to Beijing for the ten-day tour of Asia. Krkic was unable to join the squad after being called up to represent Spain at the Under-17 World Championships in Korea. The youngster was the only change from the squad that travelled to Scotland.
China was the first port of call and Barça played their first game in the captial city against Beijing Guoan. Dos Santos, Andrés Iniesta and Ronaldinho all scored in a convincing 0-3 win against the home team.
Two days later, Rijkaard watched as his team defeated Yokohama Marinos 0-1 in Japan thanks to a solitary goal from Dos Santos.
The final game took place in Hong Kong against a side made of two local teams that was called the Mission Hills Invitation XI. The game was postponed for a day after typhoon Pabuk swept through the former British colony. Xavi, Samuel Eto'o, Henry and Dos Santos all scored as Barça chalked up their biggest win of the pre-season campaign, winning 0-4 .
Milito, Márquez and Messi all rejoined the squad once they had returned to Barcelona from the Far East and were included in the squad for the trip to Munich, where Barça played FC Bayern. The game was used as a testimonial for Bayern legend Mehmet Scholl, who retired from professional football at the end of last season. A superb strike from Messi gave the visitors a 0-1 win and saw Barça win the inaugural Franz Beckenbauer Trophy.
A de-luxe Gamper
The pre-season ended with the Joan Gamper Trophy on 29th August. Frank Rijkaard's team delighted
the 98,000 fans at Camp Nou with a spectacular
win over Inter Milan. Ronaldinho, Giovani, Touré Yaya, Iniesta and Motta were the scorers. The
game, which served as a trubute to the recently-deceased Antonio Puerta and Nicolau Casaus, was a
perfect way to bring the season's preparations to a conclusion.