Gerard Pique And Xavi Hernandez Named In Catalonia Squad For Game Against Venezuela
Gerard Pique and Xavi Hernandez are coming out of international retirement to play for the Catalonia national team in what is being dubbed as their "most important game in a decade".
The pair, who have over 200 caps for Spain and won both the World Cup and European Championships, will take to the field for Catalonia against Venezuela in a friendly at Girona's Montilivi Stadium on Monday.
Former Barcelona players Bojan Krkic, Oriol Romeu, Marc Muniesa, Marc Bartra, Martin Montoya and Aleix Vidal also feature in the squad, which is predominantly made up of Girona, Espanyol and Eibar players.
Catalonia played their first fixture against another national team in 1912, a 7-0 defeat to France, but they are not recognised by UEFA or FIFA and so are not able to play competitive games.
Still, they have had played their fair share of high-profile friendlies, notably beating an Argentina side containing Angel Di Maria, Gonzalo Higuain and Javier Pastore in a 2009 International Catalan trophy game.
With the legendary Johan Cruyff managing the team, Victor Valdes, Carles Puyol, Sergio Busquets, Bojan, Pique and Xavi all played in a 4-2 victory in front of 53,000 fans at the Camp Nou.
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The latter three are returning to the field just short of ten years on, with Xavi ensuring he is involved in the historic occasion despite being 39 and playing over in Qatar.
Here is the full squad that Gerard Lopez has named:
Goalkeepers: Isaac Becerra (Nástic de Tarragona), Edgar Badía (Elche).
Defenders: Martín Montoya (Brighton), Gerard Piqué (FC Barcelona), Marc Bartra (Real Betis), Aleix Vidal (Sevilla), Dídac Vila (Espanyol), Marc Cucurella (Eibar), Marc Muniesa (Girona).
Midfielders: Víctor Sánchez (Espanyol), Xavi Hernández (Al Sadd), Pere Pons (Girona), Óscar Melendo (Espanyol), Joan Jordán (Eibar), Alex Granell (Girona), Oriol Romeu (Southampton), Aleix García (Girona).
Forwards: Sergio García (Espanyol), Bojan Krkic (Stoke City), Marc Cardona (Eibar).
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