Marcos Alonso is a man who knows all about today’s opponents Barcelona, with a family member having previously played for the Catalan club.

The Blues take on Barcelona in Saitama today at 7.30pm local time (11.30am UK time) for the Rakuten Cup, before departing for London after the game as our pre-season tour to Japan draws to a close.

Alonso will be hoping to gain more valuable minutes under his belt and comes up against a side his father used to play for.

‘Playing Barcelona will be fantastic and it will be a great game between two good clubs with a special rivalry,’ explained Marcos. ‘It will be a great game to watch and to be a part of.

‘My father played for the Real Madrid Academy as well but after a few things happened, he went to Barcelona.

‘With our family all from Madrid, going there caused a few fights in the family! No I’m only joking, it was all good and he had a great time there.

‘He would always tell me how big a club Barcelona is and he was lucky to play with one of the greatest players ever in [Diego] Maradonna.

‘We had a bitter sensation after suffering defeat against Barcelona the last time we played them [in the Champions League] but I think we can fight better this time around.

‘It will be tough [back in the Champions League] but we want to fight for every title and to be the best you have to beat the best teams.’

The Blues were defeated 1-0 by Kawasaki Frontale in our opening pre-season clash in Japan, but Alonso is quick to point out that fitness, rather than results, is the ultimate goal at this stage.

‘Pre-season games are always good and they are a good test to see where you are in terms of trying to start a season well.

‘Of course we train hard each day, usually double sessions, and we try new stuff out tactically, we work on the physical aspect of our game and it’s important to do that ahead of a new season.

‘I think you have to stand up against good teams and it’s a test to be ready for the start of the season, by playing these games.

‘It is good to play in these games but the main thing is getting our fitness and match sharpness ready for the start of the season.’

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