Sunday 19 November 2017

It's Barcelona all right, but not as we know them - did anyone tell the punters?

Barcelona's Lionel Messi Picture: Reuters
Barcelona's Lionel Messi Picture: Reuters

James McDermott

The cartoon character Homer Simpson was once thrown out of an all-you-can-eat restaurant for eating too much. The ensuing lawsuit begins with his lawyer, Lionel Hutz, declaring: "This is the most blatant case of false advertising since my suit against the movie The NeverEnding Story." Football fans attending the Aviva today may be tempted to book a consultation with Mr Hutz.

It has been revealed that Barcelona have omitted 17 first-team players from the squad that travelled to Dublin to play Celtic, with 12 of their 25-man squad being drawn from their youth ranks. This means that the Irish public, who have paid up to €80 a ticket in the expectation of seeing superstars such as Andrés Iniesta, Javier Mascherano and Gerard Piqué will instead be watching Gerard Gumbau, Sergi Samper and Carles Alena, players whom even the most obsessive soccer fan would struggle to identify.

To add insult to injury, Celtic are likely to field an equally weakened team, since the Aviva fixture is sandwiched between the two legs of their crucial Champions League qualifier against Astana FC.

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