Writer: Arab Jacques
Date:Saturday March 3 2007
Spanish giants Barcelona could be making a dramatic return to Tannadice, to take on Dundee United in a pre-season friendly.
The Nou Camp club are apparently in negotiations with both Dundee United & Hibernian about arranging a Scottish double header as part of their preparations for the start of their 2007/08 campaign.
Although, this would not be the first time that United supporters have seen the Catalan giants up close - since the 2 sides have already played against each other on 4 previous occasions in competitive matches, with Dundee United incredibly winning ALL of them.
Dundee United`s first ever European match was against Barcelona in the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup at Tannadice in 1966, when a record attendance of 28,000 supporters turned out to watch Jerry Kerr`s side beat the cup holders 2-0, with goals from Ian Mitchell(18mins) and Billy Hainey(49mins).
A 2-1 victory at the Nou Camp, with goals from Hamey(11mins) and Scandanvian Finn Seemann(54min pen), meant that minnows Dundee United created shockwaves around Europe by knocking Barca out of the competition 4-1 on aggregate.
Then during the 1986/87 season, Dundee United became the frsit Scottish club to reach the final of the UEFA Cup, losing 2-1 on aggregate to Swedish side IFK Gothenberg.
However, Jim McLean`s side had to beat Barcelona in the Quarter-Final stages of the competition before they reached the final.
Former English International boss Terry Venables was Barcelona manager at that time, boasting quality players like Gary Lineker, Mark Hughes and Steve Archibald in his 1st team squad.
However, a stunning Kevin Gallacher lob in the 2nd minute gave United a 1-0 win at Tannadice, which they followed up with another amazing 2-1 win in Spain.
Barcelona took the lead in the 2nd leg with a 40th minute goal from Ramon Maria Calderé, but late strikes from John Clark(85mins) and Iain Ferguson(89mins) set-up a Semi-Final tie between Dundee United & German side Borrusia Monchengladbach.
Now, there is a chance that Barcelona could return to the city of Dundee for a friendly, but can the might Dundee United retain their 100% record by beating a Barca team containing superstars like Ronaldinho, Deco, Lionel Messi and Samuel Eto'o?
Tixi Begiristain, the Barcelona sporting director, spent a few days in Saint Andrews last month, looking at possible accommodation and training facilities.
"The club can confirm we are exploring the possibility of coming to Scotland this summer," admitted a Barcelona spokesman.
"We have a number of options and are hoping to play two games when we are there but no dates have yet been finalised."
Speculation suggests that July 28th would be the preferred date for the friendly, with Barcelona expected to arrive in Scotland on the 23rd of July.
"Discussions have taken place with Barcelona about a possible pre-season friendly at Tannadice," admitted Dundee United director of communications Derek Robertson.
"Although they're at an early stage it's a very exciting prospect for everyone connected with the club."
Hibs also have an impressive record over the Spanish club, beating them 3-2 at Easter Road and drawing 4-4 away in the 1960/61 Fairs Cup.
Date:Saturday March 3 2007
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