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What happened when Xavi’s Catalonia took on Angel Di Maria’s Argentina in an exhibition game?

On 22 December 2009 Catalonia took on Argentina in an exhibition game at the Nou Camp, with plenty of starts on show for both sides

On 22 December 2009 the football world was treated to an early Christmas present.

The Nou Camp hosted an exhibition friendly between a Catalonia side managed by Johan Cruyff and Argentina.

A year earlier the pair had met in the same venue, with Ezequiel Lavezzi’s goal deciding a 1-0 win for Argentina.

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Party and balance, whatever that means

Party and balance, whatever that means

Given the limited selection Cruyff had to select from you’d have forgiven Argentina for going with a B team.

But, aside from the absence of the Nou Camp’s very own Lionel Messi, Argentina went with a strong side.

Martin Demichelis and Nicolas Otamendi shared defensive duties at the back, with Fernando Gago handed the job of controlling the game for Argentina instead of Ever Banega.

A front three of Angel Di Maria, Lavezzi and Javier Pastore lined up behind Gonzalo Higuain.

Goals galore, if a slightly lack of defensive responsibility.

Double Diamond Diego

Double Diamond Diego

Catalonia’s starting XI was a beautiful mishmash of seasoned Spain internationals and Catalan journeymen.

Gerard Pique, Carles Puyol, Sergio Busquets and Xavi all had, or would go on to collect, more than 100 caps for Spain.

Then there was the uncapped trio of Oleguer, Bruno and Joan Verdu.

Rounding off Catalonia’s side was the quartet of Victor Valdes, Joan Capdevila, Bojan and Sergio Garcia.

Lights, camera, action

Lights, camera, action

Referee Alfonso Alvarez Izuierdo kicked the game off and the Nou Camp fell silent.

And silent it was, until the 43rd minute, with the exhibition atmosphere failing to translate to goals.

Espnayol striker Sergio Garcia changed all that in the when he headed team-mate Verdu’s cross past Argentina keeper Diego Pozo two minutes before the break.

But in truth there wasn’t much to shout about with the score at 1-0 heading into half-time.

Pat on the head for the goalscorer

Pat on the head for the goalscorer

Then the game exploded into life.

Bojan dribbled through half of Argentina before slotting home in the 56th minute to make it 2-0, only for Javier Pastore to reply seven minutes later with a spectacular volley.

Substitute Sergio restored Catalonia’s two-goal lead from the penalty spot in the 69th minute but Argentina replied again through Di Maria three minutes later.

Moises Hurtado put Catalonia two goals in front for the third time in the game three minutes after Di Maria’s strike, allowing the Catalan crowd to finally catch their breath.

Five goals in sixteen minutes. And relax.

We’re tired just watching

We’re tired just watching

Catalonia have played another seven games since the win against Argentina, scoring four goals against both Honduras and Cape Verde.

The last Catalonia fixture ended in a penalty shootout following a 3-3 draw with Tunisia in December 2016.

Six-goal thrillers. Penalty shootouts. Any chance of a friendly against England?

(We can’t show you the goals because of broadcasting rights, but we can point you in the direction of a renegade YouTuber who’s uploaded the game)