WFC: Cowboys Stadium brings out the best of Barcelona
ARLINGTON, Texas — Even Pep Guardiola couldn’t help himself.
There was the manager of European champion FC Barcelona staring up at that massive video board which has become the most identifiable feature of Cowboys Stadium since it opened in 2009. He was looking up at himself during the first half of the World Football Challenge win against Mexican side Club América on Saturday afternoon.
So crisp and clear was Guardiola's likeness on the 600-ton screen — the world’s largest HDTV video board at 48 feet in width — that he was spotted doing a double take.
“For people in the crowd, they were watching on TV more than on the field because it’s more beautiful,” Guardiola said in his postgame press conference. “But in the position we were [on the field] for the neck it was terrible. In that position it was tough.
“An amazing stadium. Congratulations because never before I have seen a stadium so beautiful like that. … It’s a pity because the that grass [temprorary field] is not for football. But it was fine to play in that stadium.”
But the big screen, which Barcelona players were kicking balls at during their Friday training session, was not even the most important feature highlighted by Guardiola on the night. He was glad to have his team under a roof. The climate control was welcome by his team after playing in sweltering heat in Washington, D.C., and Miami.
“The most important thing is that today we could play with a temperature that was much more comfortable and much better,” Guardiola said. “The last game [in Miami] was impossible. It was very tough and the guys suffered a lot with the humidity and the temperature and today we had this incredible and marvelous stadium. … Congratulations to the city in Dallas to have this amazing place and with this air conditioning inside.”
“Today we played much better,” Barcelona right back Adriano Correia said. “We had a lot more possession of the ball, we created good opportunities. It was great to play today without much heat here in Dallas, in a spectacular stadium with an incredible structure and with air conditioning. It was a lot better for us.”
Except for Adriano, Xavi Hernández and Gerard Piqué, who have seen their preseason preparations cut short due to vacation and injury, the other starters featured for the most of the 2-0 win against the Mexican giants.
“I need to give these players minutes,” Guardiola said. “But it was impossible to play more than 45 minutes against Chivas [4-1 loss in Miami]. It was impossible for their health with that heat. Only people born in Mali, like Seydou [Keita], was able to handle those temperatures.”
After six preseason matches and 10 days in the United States, Guardiola is not any closer to having a firm starting XI ahead of next weekend’s Spanish Supercopa first-leg showdown against Real Madrid.
Not only do Lionel Messi, Dani Alves and Javier Mascherano only join Barça’s camp on Monday in Spain, but Barcelona also will watch their new acquisition, Alexis Sánchez, join the Chilean national team in midweek for a FIFA fixture date as will eight of his teammates with Spain’s national team. Meanwhile, Carles Puyol, Ibrahim Afellay and Maxwell are still out injured.
“We’ll get there [to the Spanish Supercopa first leg] the way we get there,” Guardiola said. “We lost 3-1 at Sevilla last year [in the Supercopa]. We‘ll see on Thursday how we are and we’ll see what we have to do to compete against a rival whose name says it all.”