Barcelona touched down in South Africa ahead of their friendly match against the Mamelodi Sundowns in the Nelson Mandela Centenary Cup on Wednesday.
The cup is in place to commemorate the life of South Africa’s former president, who died in December 2013 and would have turned 100 years old in July this year, and will see Barca play in South Africa for only the second time.
Barca will face the South African champions at the FNB Stadium – formerly known as Soccer City Stadium – which hosted the 2010 World Cup final which many of the Barcelona players will have fond memories of.
With one game still to play, Valverde has not held back with squad selection and has taken a full-strength Barcelona side with him to the host nation for the 2010 World Cup.
Despite their cheerful Ora being given off by the likes of Messi and Luis Suarez though, Valverde’s men would have exited their team plane with mixed emotions after they saw a potential unbeaten La Liga season flash before their very eyes on Sunday.
Their 5-4 defeat away to Levante stunned Valverde’s men and put a minor dampener on their rampant league campaign.
Nonetheless, Messi, Suarez and the rest of the Barca squad wore a brave face as they prepare to pay homage to the late Mandela by repeating their 2-1 victory over the Sundowns in their only other visit to South Africa back in 2007.
Barca’s stay on the continent will only be a brief one, though, with one last league game calling them against Real Sociedad as they look to close out their season in style at the Nou Camp four days after the Mandela Cup.
Organised by the South African FA together with La Liga World Challenge, the teams will contest the Mandela Cup the same day, with the match to kick-off at 6.15pm (both local time and CET).
The match will be broadcast live on Barcelona’s official website and also across their YouTube channel and Facebook page.
Lionel Messi and the rest of Ernesto Valverde’s side arrived in Johannesburg on Wednesday morning and appeared in good spirits after securing the domestic double with comfortable ease this season.
������ South Africa!
���� #ForçaBarça pic.twitter.com/5nJZgB4isx
— FC Barcelona ���� (@FCBarcelona) May 16, 2018