The yearly Camp Nou curtain-raiser will be used to honour the victims of the plane tragedy that devastated the Brazilian club and rocked football
Barcelona will welcome Chapecoense to Catalunya on August 7 when the teams face off in the annual Joan Gamper Trophy match.
The game is intended as a tribute to the victims of the tragic plane crash that claimed the lives of 71 people, including the majority of the Chapecoense team, last November and will take place at the Camp Nou.
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It will be a sombre occasion as Barca honour the people who lost their lives in the accident, as well as the families of those involved, in their traditional season curtain-raiser.
The game is scheduled to kick off at 20:30 local time.
|Game||Barcelona vs Chapecoense|
|Date||Monday, August 7|
|Time||20:30 (local) / 19:30 (BST)|
TV CHANNEL & LIVE STREAM
There are currently no plans to televise the game in the UK or the US, but it can be followed live on Radio Barca.
In Spain, the game will be available to watch live on the private television station Antena 3.
|UK TV channel||Online stream|
WHAT IS THE JOAN GAMPER TROPHY?
The Joan Gamper Trophy is an annual friendly game between Barcelona and another team that is played ahead of the Liga season.
Originally a four-team tournament, it is named in honour of Joan Gamper, a Switzerland native who helped found Barcelona in 1899 and played for the club before becoming president in 1908.
Chapecoense make emotional return
The competition was launched in 1966 and, along with Barca, the first edition featured French club Nantes, Belgian outfit Anderlecht and German team FC Koln.
The hosts defeated Koln in the final to win the inaugural trophy and, since then, some of the biggest clubs in the world have been involved, including Bayern Munich, Juventus and Boca Juniors.
From 1997 on, the competition was reduced to just two teams, with one game being played to decide who claims the silverware.
WHY ARE BARCA PLAYING CHAPECOENSE?
Barcelona invited Chapecoense to compete in the annual Joan Gamper Trophy match following the plane crash tragedy endured by the Brazilian club in November 2016.
On November 28, 2016, a plane carrying the Chapecoense team and staff to the final of the Copa Sudamericana crashed in Colombia, killing all but six of the 77 passengers on board.
The tragic event prompted an outpouring of sympathy from across the football world and Barcelona were among those keen to help in the aftermath, indicating a desire to “collaborate on the institutional and sporting reconstruction” of the Chapeco outfit.
Barca help to Chapecoense revealed
In a statement posted on the official Barca website last December, the club said: “FC Barcelona wants to pay tribute to the 71 people who died in the accident and their families, and will therefore make the 2017 Joan Gamper Trophy a great tribute to the world of football through various activities around this match which will become known as the date of this celebration approaches.”
Chapecoense accepted the invitation and the game was subsequently confirmed in June. Chape will be the sixth Brazilian team to compete for the Joan Gamper Trophy, after Flamengo, Vasco da Gama, Botafogo, Internacional and Santos.
SQUADS & TEAM NEWS
Chapecoense have confirmed that Alan Ruschel, one of just three players to survive the plane crash, will make his return to the team in the game, describing the Joan Gamper Trophy match as an ideal occasion.
Ruschel, along with fellow players Neto and Jakson Follmann, was among the six survivors to emerge from the crash, which resulted in the deaths of 19 Chapecoense players. While Neto may also make a return to football, Follmann needed to have his leg amputated, thus ending his playing career.
Alan Ruschel: Após sete meses de tratamento e recuperação, o atleta está próximo do retorno oficial aos gramados! #VamosChape pic.twitter.com/f8gXSocf99
— Chapecoense (@ChapecoenseReal) July 26, 2017
How Chape have rebuilt and recovered
Since the crash, Chape have managed to completely rebuild their squad and the team are competing well considering the circumstances, but they were knocked out of the Copa Libertadores in May for fielding an ineligible player. They also decided to sack head coach Vagner Mancini just seven months into the rebuild.
Barcelona are likely to field a strong team against Chapecoense in what is their last exhibition game ahead of the Supercopa Clasico games against Real Madrid, which take place on August 13 and 16.
The likes of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar were to the fore in the Blaugrana’s successful International Champions Cup tour in the United States and should be fit to feature against Chape.
However, Brazil international Rafinha is unlikely to play a part as he continues to recover from a knee injury he sustained towards the conclusion of last season.
The game between Barcelona and Chapecoense will not have the feel of a typical pre-season friendly given the poignant reason for its arrangement.
There will be an air of solemnity around Camp Nou and, with a global audience tuning in, both teams will be eager to pay a fitting tribute to those who lost their lives in the terrible tragedy.
Ruschel’s involvement will, no doubt, be the main talking point and it will be a particularly emotional day for the 27-year-old as he carries on the legacy of his fallen team-mates by continuing with his own career.
The defender made his comeback in Chape’s friendly against Ypiranga at the end of July after admitting that he had “butterflies in his stomach” at the thought. Nevertheless, with the game against Barca marking his ‘official’ return, Ruschel said that he is “ready” to keep playing.
Barcelona, meanwhile, will undoubtedly endeavour to treat the occasion with the utmost decorum and Ernesto Valverde will be keen for his players to come through the encounter with a clean bill of health.
The Blaugrana will have had over a week without action since their successful 2017 ICC sign-off and they host Real Madrid in the first leg of the 2017 Supercopa de Espana a week after the game against Chape.