Barca train at SGP

Some of the modern game’s greats took to St. George’s Park’s pitch 6 on Monday night as Barcelona enjoyed their first training session at the National Football Centre.

Under bright evening sunshine, and on the immaculate Wembley-replica playing surface, new manager Luis Enrique put his richly talented squad through their paces.

The head coach, whose association with Barcelona stretches back to the days of Sir Bobby Robson, strode around the pitch looking a picture of calm satisfaction with sunglasses perched upon his head.

Barca’s Spanish bloc – Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets, Jordi Alba and Pedro – mixed freely with international stars like Daniel Alves and Ivan Rakitic in a gentle warm-up, stretching and jogging.

Then came the team’s traditional showpiece – the rondo – a simple game of football piggy-in-the-middle, but one still challenging enough to trigger whoops and cheers from the players with every act of deftness and imagination.

And it was the veterans Xavi and Iniesta, plus the former Everton loanee Gerard Deulofeu, who stole the most rapturous applause.

For select media and a handful of St. George’s Park staff it was also an early opportunity to see new signings Rakitic, Jeremy Mathieu and goalkeepers Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Claudio Bravo in action.

Barcelona will train twice a day at St. George’s Park until Saturday, when they fly to southern France for a pre-season friendly against Nice.

Sessions are close to the public, but stay tuned to TheFA.com and @stgeorgespark for updates.