International Champions Cup United States
7/30/16 - Final
Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Ireland
FC Barcelona
Celtic FC
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The Catalan club kick off their preparations against the Scottish side as they scour the market for a striker who can provide back-up as the Swede did after his move from Glasgow.

Barcelona meet Celtic in Dublin on Saturday in the International Champions Cup as the Blaugrana return to work ahead of the 2016-17 season, still hoping to sign a support striker in the mould of a man who once graced these two teams: Henrik Larsson.

The Catalan club have already signed France defenders Samuel Umtiti and Lucas Digne this summer, while Portugal midfielder Andre Gomes arrived from Valencia last week and Denis Suarez has been brought back from Villarreal.

However, a striker was the top priority at the start of the window and a forward has remained elusive this summer.

Nolito moved to Manchester City, while Luciano Vietto is heading to Sevilla and Kevin Gameiro is set to join Atletico Madrid as many of the targets appear unwilling to play second fiddle to the much-lauded MSN strikeforce featuring Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar.

So the club are now scouring the market for a player who can come in and be happy to operate as an impact player from the bench, as Larsson did so effectively in his two-season spell at Camp Nou between 2004 and 2006 which culminated in a superb cameo in the 2006 Champions League final against Arsenal as the Swede set up both Barca goals in a 2-1 win.

Robin van Persie, Mario Gomez and Carlos Bacca are among the names in the frame for the role, but Barca will have to make do without a new forward for now as they kick off their pre-season programme in Dublin.

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Messi returned early from his break after the Copa America and is available along with Suarez for Saturday’s match.

Barca have been training at St. George’s Park in England, where Jeremy Mathieu missed Thursday’s morning session through illness and Martin Montoya was out with an adductor strain. The French defender did return for the evening practice, though, and should be fit for Saturday’s game in which Luis Enrique will be expected to give a run-out to as many players as possible in his 24-man squad.

“We’re excited to be back,” Luis Enrique said last week. “The holidays have been longer than usual. Now it’s time to start work again. The objectives are the maximum and they are very attractive.”

Asked about Messi’s state of mind following the Copa America Centenario final loss to Chile, he said: “He will be here like he always is - excited to play football. The pitch is his natural habitat.”

And on the striker search, he added: “It’s true that we are looking for another forward. There are a lot of players who want to come to Barca, and some who think they won’t play much. What we want is a player who wants to be here and wants to help out.”

After the match against Celtic, Barca face Leicester in Stockholm and then Liverpool at Wembley before meeting Sampdoria in the Gamper Trophy and then taking on Sevilla over two legs in the Spanish Supercopa.

Celtic, meanwhile, are well into their pre-season programme and have also played three Champions League qualifiers, beating Gibraltar’s Lincoln Red Imps over two legs before a 1-1 draw with Astana in Kazakhstan. Brendan Rodgers’ side also drew 1-1 with Leicester in a friendly at Celtic Park last weekend, losing on penalties to Claudio Ranieri’s men.

The Scottish champions are likely to have one eye on the return leg of their Champions League third round qualifier on Wednesday and, with injuries in defence, Rodgers is set to hand a debut to new signing Kolo Toure at the Aviva Stadium.

“I didn’t think it was fair to ask Kolo to come straight out to Kazakhstan the day after signing,” he said after the Astana draw. “He is a very fit individual, but he needed to do some work with the team.

“But he has had a good week’s training this week. We will see what he is like for the weekend. I think there’s a good chance that he can be involved in the Barcelona game and the Astana game next week because of the injury situation.”

Erik Sviatchenko and Kristoffer Ajer are set to miss out.

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By Stefan Coerts

Barcelona recorded a comfortable 3-1 win over Celtic in its first match of preseason, with Arda Turan and Munir El Haddadi scoring.

Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez made their first Barcelona appearances of the season as the Catalans started their International Champions Cup campaign with a 3-1 victory over Celtic in Dublin.

Argentina superstar Messi, playing for the first time since missing a penalty in Argentina's Copa America Centenario final shootout defeat to Chile, managed 45 minutes while Suarez — top scorer in La Liga last season — lasted until the hour mark.

Barca was 3-1 up at halftime. Arda Turan's excellent strike and a comical own goal from Efe Ambrose, either side of Leigh Griffiths taking advantage of some woeful defending, put Barca 2-1 ahead before Munir El Haddadi was also on the score sheet.

All in all it was a good performance by the Liga champions, who took their foot off the gas somewhat after the break, and they next meet Premier League holder Leicester City on Wednesday.

Luis Enrique fielded an experimental back line and a misunderstanding between center back pairing Jose Martinez and Jeremy Mathieu almost handed Celtic the lead within 15 seconds, with Patrick Roberts aiming just wide after picking up a loose ball.

It was Barca that struck first in the 11th minute, though. Aleix Vidal brilliantly jinked his way down the Celtic right and cut back for Turan, whose well-struck effort from the edge of the box found the top right-hand corner.

But a horror mistake from Martinez gifted Griffiths the equalizer as the defender's heavy first touch after Masip's pass left the Celtic striker with an open goal to make it 1-1.

Barca was quickly back in front after another defensive howler as Ambrose inexplicably diverted Juan Camara's harmless cross from the left past Craig Gordon.

Celtic looked dangerous early in the second half when Nadir Ciftci volleyed just over the crossbar after Moussa Dembele's clever touch set him up, while Tom Rogic fired narrowly wide from 20 yards out.

Denis Suarez – who made his first appearance since his return to Barcelona from Villarreal – was unfortunate not to add a fourth, with substitute goalkeeper Leonardo Fasan making a fine save to deny the midfielder.

Seemingly content with its run-out, Barca eased off in the closing stages and the match ended 3-1.