Deulofeu impresses in Neymar role as Barca honour Chapecoense

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The winger scored one and set up two in the Gamper Trophy at Camp Nou on an emotional night for the Brazilian side after last year's tragic air crash


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The result was the least important thing. For Barcelona, this match was a final warm-up for the new season and the forthcoming Spanish Supecopa series against Real Madrid. For Chapecoense, another step in their rebuilding process.

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Barca invited the Brazilian side to take part in the Gamper Trophy after the tragic air crash last year, which took place in the early hours of November 29th, European time (coincidentally the date, in 1899, when the Catalan club were formed).

Chapecoense were on their way to Medellin to meet Atletico Nacional in the final of the Copa Sudamericana when the flight went down just outside the Colombian city, killing 19 of the 22 players among 71 fatalities in total.

Only five people survived, three footballers among them. They were all present at Camp Nou, with left-back Alan Ruschel making his return to action in this match and featuring for 35 minutes. He was joined on the pitch by defender Neto (who was in tears) and goalkeeper Jackson Follmann (who now has a prosthetic leg after losing a limb in the crash) in emotional scenes before kick-off.

Barca Chape score

Understandably, the game was played with little intensity, but Barcelona were keen to put on a performance in their first Camp Nou appearance under new coach Ernesto Valverde - and also a first since the departure of Neymar.

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Deulofeu, signed on a buy-back option from Everton earlier in the summer, started in Neymar's positon on the left and he had the ball in the net after just five minutes, tapping in from close range when he was left alone at the far post following a slick team move.

The 23-year-old, often criticised for his lack of work-rate or poor decision making, was keen to impress in this match and he soon claimed two assists as he helped set up Sergio Busquets and Lionel Messi for Barca's second and third goals before half-time. He also worked hard to track back when needed.

Deulofeu looked to pick up a knock and went off at the interval, so it remains to be seen whether he will be fit for the Supercopa double-header against Madrid, which starts with the first leg at Camp Nou on Sunday night.

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Barca won 5-0 in the end, with Luis Suarez and Denis Suarez both on the scoresheet in the second half, in which Paco Alcacer saw a penalty saved by Artur Moraes and both teams made multiple changes.

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"Today is a very special day because we welcome Chapecoense," Andres Iniesta said before kick-off as he addressed the fans. "I hope you enjoy an unforgettable day." And Valverde added: "It's an honour to welcome Chapecoense."

For the visitors, it was a shame their nation's finest footballer, Neymar, was not here to take part in what was indeed a memorable occasion as they recived a special trophy afterwards and were applauded off at the end by the Camp Nou crowd.

For Barca, though, Deulofeu showed some promise in the role of his predecessor and, unless there is a new signing in the coming days or he is deemed unfit, he looks likeliest to start on the left for the two Clasico clashes against Madrid.

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