European giants play a 3-3 draw but the match was to raise awareness for ALS, a life-threatening disease that former Barcelona player and coach, and Pep Guardiola’s close friend, Unzue has been diagnosed with.
A mid-week clash between two European heavyweights would largely be reserved for the Champions League but on Wednesday night, Barcelona and Manchester City faced each other in a friendly match, which ended in a 3-3 draw.
The timing and the purpose of the match raised quite a few eyebrows, given that it is not usual for teams to play a friendly game in the middle of a league season. This game, however, went beyond footballing reasons.
This game was played to raise funds to support the research for the cure to ALS disease. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis is a degenerative-neuro disease that has no cure at present and has life expectancy of four to five years.
In 2020, Juan Carlos Unzue, a former Barcelona assistant manager and a close friend of Pep Guardiola, the ex-manager of the Catalan giants who is now in charge of Manchester City, was diagnosed with ALS.
In emotional scenes Camp Nou, Unzue kicked off the match in front of 91,062 fans and even addressed the Barcelona players in the dressing room.
“I thank Barcelona and Manchester City first. I want to thank everyone who came here, everyone who bought a ticket, and everyone who donates. Everyone who is fighting against the disease,” the former Barcelona player was quoted as saying by the Spanish media.
Guardiola said post-match: “The artist here is Unzué, who made this possible, because of his stubbornness and all his people pushing and pushing to do it. It’s been a beautiful summer night, the stadium was full, and it was a fun game, six goals, chances for both sides. Congratulations.”
The two clubs will now shift focus to their domestic leagues. Barcelona, coached by Xavi, are two games into their La Liga campaign, having drawn one and won one.
Although unbeaten in three matches, Manchester City dropped points for the first time this season after they were held to a 3-3 draw by Newcastle United.