Posted on March 18, 2016

Leading up to the Qatar Grand Prix – the first race of the 2016 MotoGP World Championship – Movistar Yamaha's Valentino Rossi visited Aspire Academy on Thursday to play in a friendly on Aspire Dome’s indoor football pitch against an Aspire team captained by Xavi Hernandez.

Several riders belonging to Rossi’s VR46 Riders Academy joined him on the visit, including Lorenzo Baldassarri, Franco Morbidelli, Nicholas Bulega, Romano Fenati, Niccolo Antonelli, Andrea Migno and Francesco Bagnaia. Lining up against them, former FC Barcelona star Xavi’s teammates included a number of Aspire Academy football coaches plus Xavi’s brothers Alex and Oscar and the Spanish professional player Sergio Garcia, who recently won the Qatar Stars League with Al-Rayyan. 

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The two sides played in front of an enthusiastic crowd made up of several student-athletes at Aspire Academy. The team captained by Xavi ran out 4-2 winners, but the game was played in the spirit of a “true” friendly, with both teams exchanging players during the half-time break. “It was a lot of fun and I have always admired Xavi because he plays with his head up”, said Rossi. Xavi also expressed his admiration for the decorated Italian. “Valentino played very well on the pitch – the only thing missing was his helmet,” joked the Al Sadd SC midfielder and adviser to Aspire Academy. 

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