Arena Ready For Stiff Barcelona Test

Despite calling the match a "great challenge," Galaxy coach Bruce Arena is excited for his team’s friendly against European champions Barcelona.
In what is becoming one of the most anticipated friendlies of the summer, European and Spanish champions FC Barcelona are set to take on the Los Angeles Galaxy from the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California on Saturday night.

Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena plans do things comparably to what he went through when his team lined up against Italian giants, AC Milan.

“I think we will take a similar approach to the game against AC Milan,” said Arena of his expectations going in. “It’s for the players to enjoy, but most importantly the fans as well. We went it to be a good showing and we want to play well, but we also want it to be a good showing for all the people who are coming out to the Rose Bowl to see an outstanding team in Barcelona. It’s a great challenge for us, but it should be an extraordinary experience for us as well.”

Arena’s team have had a bit of an up-and-down first half to the season, but in recent weeks they’ve steadied themselves and look to be a force down the stretch.

During the early part of the year they’ve had to endure various player problems and varying performances, something Arena feels is one of the only consistent things in the sport: inconsistency.

“We’ve had injuries, suspensions, national team call-ups, late arrivals with David Beckham,” said Arena of his team’s season to date. “It’s all part of it. You just deal with it each and every week and this week will be no different than the previous weeks thus far.”

For the Galaxy, this week will be different than the previous weeks as Barcelona, one of the biggest clubs in the world, are in town. With 80,000 plus expected at the Rose Bowl for the match, it can’t be called "just another match," even if it does qualify as an exhibition.

Having won last year’s UEFA Champions League, La Liga and Copa del Rey, Barcelona completed a memorable treble, good for one of their best season’s ever. Despite this, Arena isn’t really worried about facing the Catalan giants.

“When I look at their roster, I don’t really think there are any players we have to focus on,” said Arena in jest before referencing the threats Barcelona has in their team. “They have an abundance of talent and I think the player that everyone wants to watch is [Lionel] Messi. He’s a spectacular talent. I was privileged to watch him in 2006. It was my first game with New York Red Bulls in Giants Stadium and he spun a few of our players. He’s an exciting player, he’s a real challenge to play against and our players in defense and midfield will certainly have their hands full with him.”

With the large crowd expected, and the obvious test Barcelona will throw the Galaxy’s way, it should be an entertaining and beneficial 90 minutes for both teams, and particularly the home side's head coach.

Shane Evans,

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