With the transfer market in full swing, it’s easy to forget just how quickly the new season is approaching. Aside from players coming and going, the league releasing the fixture list, and the start of preseason, an often forgotten piece of the new season puzzle is the friendly matches that clubs play to get player fitness levels up in advance of the new campaign.
A fun aspect of these preseason friendlies is that, occasionally, a trophy is on the line—none more famous than the bonsai trophy the Giallorossi picked up following their penalty—shootout victory over Real Madrid in the Mabel Green Cup way back in 2019. And while winning these types of trophies isn’t going to turn heads by any means, it’s probably more enjoyable for the players to play with something on the line in what otherwise would be a meaningless friendly.
This summer, the Giallorossi were due to participate in the Joan Gamper Trophy match, an annual pre-season friendly hosted by Barcelona - first established in 1966. If the match sounds familiar, Roma participated in 2015, losing to the hosts 3-0.
The club was scheduled to face Barcelona in this year’s iteration of the match on August 6th, but ultimately the powers that be decided to withdraw Roma from the match:
Club Statement: Gamper Trophy— AS Roma English (@ASRomaEN) June 27, 2022
From the club site:
The club can confirm that it has withdrawn from its proposed participation in the Gamper Trophy, which was scheduled to take place in Barcelona on 6 August 2022.
The decision comes as a consequence of the need to modify the plan for summer friendly matches, both for the men’s and women’s first teams, in light of the principal objective of ensuring the best possible preparations and working conditions for each side ahead of the 2022-23 season.
The two Giallorossi first-team squads will now finalise preparations for their respective upcoming campaigns closer to home with less travel required – with any additional contests not already announced set to be formally confirmed in due course.
The club would like to thank FC Barcelona for the invitation to participate in the Gamper this summer and wishes both its first-teams well with their upcoming pre-season preparations.
Whether the scars of that previous defeat in this match played a role in the decision or not, who's to say. Jokes aside, it seems clear that the club thought it more prudent to focus on preparations for the upcoming season rather than play in this friendly, although it’ll be interesting to learn more about the reasons behind the decision as this story progresses.
The statement from Barcelona’s end was a bit more adversarial, with the Spanish club discussing taking legal action against Roma for the decision.
Stay tuned to see if anything develops out of this one!