ARLINGTON, Texas — FC Barcelona’s Jonathan dos Santos claims the European champions are obligated to win their final World Football Challenge match against Mexico’s América on Saturday afternoon at Cowboys Stadium (4 pm ET, ESPN, ESPN Deportes).
“We have to keep our prestige up there,” he told media after his team’s final practice on Friday night at Cowboys Stadium. “We’re the best team in the world and we can’t lose again. We need to win no matter how. We know it’s been two games for us without winning, without seeing a victory. This club has to always win and we want to have a great game on Saturday.”
The numerous absences of more experienced starters has cost Barcelona in two previous World Football Challenge matches against Manchester United and Chivas de Guadalajara. Even dos Santos, who has played as a central midfielder for most of his Barcelona career, has had to help make up for his missing teammates by starting at right back in both matches played on US soil.
“I don’t know, it’s day to day,” dos Santos said about his future at right back. “Right now in these games I’m playing in this position and I’m fitting in each day better."
But will his performances be enough for the 21-year-old dos Santos to have a permanent place in the first team this season or will it be back to Barcelona B team in the second division?
“Personally, things have been great for me and ever since I’ve joined the first team they’ve always supported me,” he said. “For now I don’t want to think about this right now [sticking with the senior team]. I want to think in the present. I’m here in the preseason. We’ll see what happens in the future.”
The future calls for a Saturday afternoon match against Mexican side América in a stadium that dos Santos calls “incredible” and “spectacular.”
As a Mexican international, dos Santos should be trusted to give an accurate take on “las aguilas” but his description of his opponent is sure to alienate fans of at least one of the big two in Mexico.
“More or less they’re just like Chivas,” said dos Santos, comparing América to their major rivals. “Another great team from Mexico. They’re going to do exactly like Chivas. They’re going to counter from the first minute. But we plan to go out and play our game.”
And it better result in a win. If not, the Blaugrana are in for one long week before facing hated rivals Real Madrid in the Spanish Supercopa on Sunday.