Koeman: The Gamper Trophy is a challenge, it’s a test on a physical and football level

Ronald Koeman is set to take charge of his first Barcelona match at the Camp Nou on Saturday when they host Elche in the Joan Gamper Trophy.

After beating Nastic de Tarragona and Girona 3-1 in their two pre-season friendlies to this point, Koeman is aware that LaLiga Santander newcomers Elche may pose a different threat.

“I hope everything goes well,” Koeman said during Friday’s pre-match press conference.

“It is a special challenge for me to be at the Camp Nou for the last game before the start of LaLiga.

“It’s a game to look forward to.

“It’s a good match because it’s an opponent who plays in the first division.

The Dutch coach then made clear that Miralem Pjanic will be in the squad for the first time since joining Barcelona.

“He will be in the [squad] list,” Koeman stated.

“He’s not 100 percent to play from the start, but he might have few minutes tomorrow.”

There will be no fans at the Camp Nou to welcome Koeman, which he admits is disappointing.

“I believe that football should be played with an audience,” he noted.

“It is a pity, but we accept the moment we are all in.

“It’s special, but with Barcelona fans [present] it would be totally different.”

When analysing Barcelona’s pre-season as a whole, the coach is pleased with how the team has developed in a physical sense.

“We’ve been here for three weeks and I think the team and the players have improved a lot in terms of physical appearance,” Koeman commented.

“We have also worked well on tactical issues.

“We saw good things in the last friendly against Girona and hopefully we will see a complete match in the Gamper.”

Thiago: My decision to leave Bayern Munich is purely a sporting one

Thiago Alcantara has revealed that his move to Liverpool is purely for sporting reasons.

In an emotional video released on his social media, the departing Bayern Munich midfielder said that the German club would always be his home.

“This is a sporting decision,” Thiago said.

“I wanted to find a new challenge and continue growing as a footballer.

“Bayern will always be my home.”

Thiago admitted that, after seven years in Germany during which he has experienced such success, the decision had been the hardest of his career.

“I feel proud to have arrived here as a young man full of dreams, and I leave having lived the full experience of this club and its culture,” he continued.

“I’ve come to love this place and though I might be leaving, I’ll never forget it.”

In the video, the 29-year-old repeated the words ‘mia san mia’, the Bayern motto that loosely translates as ‘we are who we are’.

David Silva set to make Real Sociedad debut against Real Madrid

David Silva is expected to play his first LaLiga Santander match in 10 years on Sunday when Real Sociedad host Real Madrid at the Reale Arena.

The 34-year-old last represented Valencia in Spain before he spent the next decade in England with Manchester City.

Silva was one of the prominent players during La Real’s training session on Friday, with it being their penultimate session before taking on Zinedine Zidane’s side.

As such, everything is pointing towards Silva making his Real Sociedad debut on Sunday, while Nacho Monreal also seems to have recovered from the muscular injury that prevented him from playing against Real Valladolid in matchday one

Puma’s risky, multi-million euro gamble with Neymar Puma’s 20 million euro a season sponsorship deal

Neymar could be one of the most daring moves ever seen in the world of football commerce.

The German sportswear giant wanted a global star on their books to compete with Nike and Adidas, and they’ve had to break the bank to do so.

But they’ve certainly got their hands on a marketable man in Neymar, who has encountered fame and fortune from a young age up to his current status as a bona fide world name.

Puma hope they can work with Neymar in the same manner that Nike worked with Michael Jordan, a timeless idol who continues to generate income for the brand.

Adidas, for their part, have Lionel Messi as the face of their football range, and Nike have a similar deal with Cristiano Ronaldo.

And so, the battle for sportswear supremacy continues.

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