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Beijing's gearing up for soccer action at the Birds' Nest. Barcelona is getting set for its football friendly match against Beijing Guoan. Barca's tour is focused on commercial gain rather than traditional pre-season fitness building, so Barcelona's stars, including Lionel Messi and Zlatan Ibrahamovich took time out from their schedule to recognize some very special people.
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After the children left the field, Barcelona got down to preparing for a tricky game against Chinese Super League Champions Beijing Guoan. A last minute change of training grounds saw Barcelona run out at the Workers' Stadium. If that wasn't disruptive enough, someone turned the sprinklers on.
Messi will feature at some point over the 90 against Guoan. He's looked tired and off the pace but still managed to show glimpses of brilliance. Zlatan Ibrahamovich will feature in the only game on the China tour. But for the reserves, it could be their chance to impress fans who have traveled from all over China to see their Idols.
A Barcelona fan said, "I've come from Fujian province, far from here, just to watch Barcelona play. I came so close to them, no matter how tiring the trip was, I really think it's worth it."
The tour might be exhausting for Pep Guadiolas side, but with thousands of Chinese fans learning to love the beautiful game, Barcelona will make many new friends.