Saudi roll ball players set their sights on international stage after kingdom hosts first sports tournament


LIVE: Barcelona v Boca Juniors Maradona Cup in Saudi Arabia

RIYAD: Football fans and admirers of Argentine giant Diego Armando Maradona will turn their gazes to Riyadh on Tuesday as Barcelona and Boca Juniors play a match in honor of one of the sport’s greatest icons at Marsool Park stadium, in Saudi Arabia. Inaugural Maradona Cup.

The match marks just over a year since the death of Maradona, who was buried on November 25. The two teams taking part in Tuesday’s event have met ten times over the years in friendlies, with Boca winning five of those games, Barcelona four and a draw.

The two teams share a close bond with the late Argentinian, who has donned the famous colors of both teams.

Although Maradona struggled with injuries during his two-year stint at Barcelona, ​​his impact was evident, Barca coach Xavi Hernandez says he grew up idolizing him.

And during Maradona’s lifetime, he was a regular visitor to Boca’s La Bombonera stadium long after hanging up his boots and enjoying his own private lodge on the ground.

(Update below, every GMT hour)

17:20 – Boca Juniors are now putting pressure on Barcelona, ​​dominating possession after the first quarter of the game. Barcelona had a few more attempts on target after Puig’s shot but they only shot routine saves from Boca keeper Rossi Augustin.

5.15 p.m. – CLOSING: Barcelona create a great chance as Riqui Puig shoots from the midfield but his shot went right off.

5:00 p.m. – KICK OFF: And we’re on our way to Riyadh in the Maradona Cup, with an already tight round trip. Fans cheered when Dani Alves made his first touch for Barcelona since his return.

16:55 – We are just minutes from kick-off as Barcelona and Boca Juniors step onto the pitch, to an enthusiastic welcome from the fans who are now at the edge of their seats for the upcoming game. We will watch the Saudi national anthem before kick-off …

16:35 – Both teams have now posted their starting XI for the Maradona Cup clash, which will kick off in around 25 minutes.

4:15 p.m. – The players of Boca Juniors are on the ground of the Marsool stadium for their warm-up …

3:45 p.m. – Cristian Pavón stands out tonight for Boca Juniors, the 25-year-old striker is key to his speed and ability to fight on offense. Sebastián Battaglia, who coaches Boca, will look to end the year with a victory to pay homage to one of their greatest idols.

Meanwhile, after a less than explosive start under new manager Xavi, Barcelona hope to boost their confidence with a win.

15:20 – So far, it has been a tough season for the Barcelona manager – inheriting the squad mid-season and trying to impose his tactics in a short period of time as he seeks to end the bad form that led Barcelona to lose La Liga. chart. Riddled with injuries and a grueling upcoming schedule, Xavi will use this game to try and keep the first-team players as fit as possible as they prepare to embark on their first Europa League campaign in 17 years. years, when it was still nicknamed the UEFA Cup. . The Catalans will have to fight Napoli for their right to advance in the Europa League, as their streak of bad luck continues as they were paired with one of the toughest teams in the competition.

Dani Alves is playing his first game tonight since returning to Barcelona. The Barca legend, 38, plans to play hard with his teammates, and after his debut tonight, he will then be recorded in January, when he can start competing in official competitions, hoping to add to his stacked trophy cabinet.