MIAMI — FC Barcelona forward Pedro Rodríguez recognizes the standard and expectations of stylish soccer that the club has set for itself. And exhibition matches are no exception.
The 24-year-old believes his team has to put on a show no matter what the game, including in tonight’s 2011 Herbalife World Football Challenge encounter against CD Guadalajara at Sun Life Stadium (8 pm ET; ESPN2, Galavisión).
“Every preseason match we want to win and entertain for all the fans who are watching here in the USA,” he told a throng of media after the team’s open practice at Sun Life on Tuesday night. “We want to stay calm and play our game against what will be a great rival.”
The two teams first met in 2006 and tied 1-1 in front of a sellout crowd of 92,000 at the LA Coliseum. The teams also faced off in 2008 and 2009, with a 5-2 Barcelona win at Chicago's Soldier Field and another 1-1 tie in San Francisco, respectively.
“They’re a solid, physical team and one of the best teams in Mexico,” said Pedro, who scored 22 goals in all competitions last year. “It will cost us to get a win against them. ... It’s going to be a tough game, but we hope to have a great game and play at a good level to get a win.”
Barcelona are 1-1-2 in the four preseason matches played thus far. Their last exhibition was their WFC debut against Manchester United, a 2-1 loss to the English champions.
Last Saturday’s match in Washington, D.C., was a difficult one for Barcelona, in which their early preseason form showed against the Red Devils. Dealing with several player absences, Barcelona chose to pass the ball and maintain possession, exercising patience in breaking down the compact wall put up by Man. United. However, the Blaugrana rarely threatened and only got on the board through a wonder strike by preseason top scorer Thiago Alcántara.
The record South Florida soccer crowd that will show up at Sun Life Stadium on Wednesday will surely demand a little more sparkle from Pedro and the European champions.
“Preseason games are important for us to get a rhythm going and get in shape,” said Pedro, who played all but four minutes vs. Manchester United. “We want to approach them in the best way possible to get the right conditioning for the games that follow. And we hope to get a victory for all the fans.”