Liga MX side Pumas will now take on Barcelona in the annual Joan Gamper Trophy on Aug. 6, following Roma’s withdrawal from the exhibition match last week, the LaLiga giants announced on Tuesday.
Initially advertised as Roma boss Jose Mourinho’s return to the Camp Nou, where he was previously on the coaching staff before becoming the coach of rivals Real Madrid, Barca have now sold the friendly as a clash against a Pumas side that developed Mexican and Real Madrid legend Hugo Sanchez.
– La Liga on ESPN+: Stream LIVE games and replays (US only)
– Soccer on ESPN+: FC Daily | Futbol Americas
– Don’t have ESPN? Get instant access
Following Roma’s withdrawal, Barca released a strongly worded statement, claiming that the Serie A team « have decided to unilaterally, without reason, withdraw from the agreed contract. »
« The club’s legal department is studying possible action against Roma for damages caused to Barcelona and its fans due to this unexpected and unjustified decision, » the statement added.
Roma stated that their decision to withdraw was « 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. »
Played annually, the Joan Gamper Trophy is typically scheduled during the week before the LaLiga season starts. Last year’s edition was the first to also include Barcelona’s women’s team, with both Barca clubs defeating Juventus.
Along with the news on Tuesday that Pumas would replace Roma in the Joan Gamper Trophy, Barca also announced that their women’s team will face France’s Montpellier HSC on Aug. 23.
« The withdrawal of AS Roma from the fixture against both the men’s and women’s team forced Barça to search for new opponents with little time to spare with the objective of celebrating both Gamper games on the same day. In the end, the option of playing the matches separately has been chosen to allow both sides to take part in the Gamper Trophy, » noted the Spanish club in their release.