Much controversy surrounded Barcelona's first pre-season friendly match against South Korea's K-League All-Stars, as fans lambasted the Blaugrana for announcing that Lionel Messi would not play in the match. Some fans even went so far as to ask for refunds as a sparsely filled stadium greeted Barca for their first tune-up of the new campaign.
The Korean press blasted Barcelona for showing "arrogance" and claimed to be "humiliated" as a group of all-stars from Korea's K-league took on the Spanish giants in Seoul. And while it was later confirmed that Messi would, in fact, play in a limited role in the match, he was greeted with boos as an image of him on the bench was shown on the stadium monitors.
The match began in as contentious a fashion, as in the first minute, Choi Sung-Guk's shot across the face of goal found its way into the back of the net. But Barca cancelled out the initial surprise in the fifth minute with a Zlatan Ibrahimovic strike.
With the score tied, the Korean fans eventually got what they were waiting for as Messi entered the fray in the 30th minute along with Brazilian right-back Dani Alves. But it would be the K-League All-Stars that would steal the attention back as Lee Dong-Guk regained the lead for his side with a header that beat Pinto.
All would change in the 42nd minute though, as Messi, in classic fashion, received the ball from a quickly taken free-kick and finished with a low shot past the keeper. Just three minutes later, 'La Pulga' would strike again as he received the ball on the right wing, cut inside and finished with a shot into the top corner. The Argentine wizard played just 16 minutes, but gave fans the show they were hoping to see.
The match continued as a close-run affair, but Barca would put more distance between themselves and the Koreans in the final minutes as youngsters Victor Sanchez and Jonathan Soriano added late strikes. Overall, it was a good initial showing from the Blaugrana.