Iniesta privileged to go up against Barcelona
Andres Iniesta is anticipating a special game between Vissel Kobe and his former club Barcelona, and feels privileged to be involved.
Iniesta left Barca in 2018 after 16 years in the first team at Camp Nou, joining the J1 League club.
The former Spain international will go up against his former team for the first time in Saturday's friendly.
And the 35-year-old is expecting the match to be a momentous occasion not just personally, but also for Vissel Kobe's players and fans.
"For us it is a privilege to play Barcelona. It will be a very special game," he told a news conference.
"Personally, it will be special to play against some former colleagues. We will try to compete at our best, also in order to get prepared for our next [J1 League] game, which is the important one.
"We expect all the fans can have some fun with this match. Hopefully it will be a special day for all our fans, Barcelona fans and also for all the Japanese people."
@5sergiob: "Andrés means a lot to the players that have come out of La Masia, and having the support of players like Iniesta makes everything easier. He is also a great friend and it will be special to play against him" pic.twitter.com/LkAQu7oWMo— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) July 26, 2019
While Vissel Kobe's J1 League campaign is well underway, the game is Barca's second pre-season friendly, with Ernesto Valverde's side having lost 2-1 to Chelsea on Tuesday.
LaLiga champions Barca host Arsenal at Camp Nou in their next outing, before taking on Napoli twice in the United States prior to starting their season against Athletic Bilbao.
As such, Valverde had little time with his squad before leaving Spain for Japan, and he conceded Barca's gruelling travel routine has not helped his players' fitness.
"Obviously, our preseason is not a standard one if you compare it with the rest of the teams," Valverde told a news conference.
"We just need to adapt ourselves to all these trips following the interests of our club as it needs to expand their brand.
"Besides, the club can get an important amount of money by playing these kind of games, so we must adapt ourselves to this factor.
"In terms of training sessions we are a bit short of shape as we have been working out just for a single week. Here [in Japan] the level of intensity at the training sessions is a bit different."