Barca strike trio unlikely to team up in Beijing

August 3, 2007

BEIJING, Aug 3 (Reuters) - Barcelona are unlikely to start Ronaldinho, Samuel Eto'o and new signing Thierry Henry together in Sunday's friendly match against Beijing Guoan.

Chinese fans hoping for a first glimpse of the trio on the field at the same time since French striker Henry's $32 million arrival from Arsenal in June look set to be disappointed.

'I don't think so,' coach Frank Rijkaard told reporters anxious to know of the Dutchman's plans. 'But I hope we'll play a wonderful game and we're happy to be here.'

Italian defender Gianluca Zambrotta, who questioned the wisdom of Barca's three-match tour of Asia, appeared tired after the team's long flight and did not speak during the news conference.

Goalkeeper Victor Valdes, however, said he was looking forward to the tour.

'We're bringing the club culture and we'll make the fans feel part of us,' he said. 'I think this a good place for us to get fit.'

The Catalan club's last trip to China three years was disappointing, however, with their pre-season match against Shanghai International attracting a sparse crowd.

Argentina's Lionel Messi did not travel to Asia with the squad to give him more time to rest after his Copa America exertions.

The 20-year-old was showing off his skills in Beijing not more than two weeks ago during a tour of China on behalf of an American soft drink company.

Barcelona, who follow Manchester United and Liverpool by playing pre-season games in Asia, also face Yokohama F-Marinos in Japan on Aug. 7 and a Mission Hills Invitational XI in Hong Kong three days later.