Preseason Part One - Spain
I love preseason, it's basically a holiday after a holiday, you get to go to different countries and learn about different cultures and this preseason was no different. But before that we had a little bit of business to take care of regarding the players to take on our two tours with us, that was settled by a friendly against the reserves, we split the teams up and had a game, first team against the reserves and youngsters. It was a relatively easy match, the first team winning 5-0, the first teamers did look very sharp to say that this is their first game back, and I'm not going to undermine my reserves or youngsters because they are very good players, as you have to be if you want to be at this club. It was just the fact that the first teamers were sharper and had that cutting edge. Like they say "Class is permanent"
With the issue regarding which players to take on the tours being sorted out, we jetted off to our first destination, which was Spain. We played a couple of games here:
- Volendam (A dutch side also on tour in spain)
We couldn't of started the tour any worse against Espanyol, we found ourselves 3-0 down before half time, and we had to work extremely hard to get the draw. Pirlo fired us back to 3-1 just after the restart and substitute Osvaldo cut the deficit to one on the 50th minute, we found it hard to find that final goal due to all of Espanyol's possession but we got out moment on the 91st minute when Girogio Chiellini scored a near post header to snatch a draw. We did tremendously to fight back but we should have never of been in that situation in the first place.
Our second game was against Champions League Qualifiers Valencia, we knew this would be a good test to see how we'd fair against Champions League opposition, I fielded as strong a team as I could for this game and we couldn't of got off to a better start with Llorente chipping the keeper from 20 yards, it was a fabulous strike, one he'll remember for a long time. (He still bangs on about it now) Valencia proved to be stubborn opposition and they scored a level on the 19th minute thanks to sloppy marking from a corner Oriol Romeu managed to score a header from three yards out. Both sides went in to half time locked level and Juventus started the second half the most dominant and we was rewarded a penalty on the 46th minute and it was tucked away by Vidal. Valencia was resilient again and managed to score again to level the game on the 48th minute thanks to Costa. The game ended at 2-2 but I wasn't too disappointed by the result because we played some brilliant football against a brilliant side.
Our third game saw us come up against Volendam, these are a Dutch side that were also on tour at the same time we was and we had spare time so we organised a friendly against them, it was a poor draw for us at 0-0, they defended brilliantly, we could really take a leaf out of their book, they were so resilient and it was amazing to watch as a coach, we dominated the game we had 35 shots and didn't manage to put one away but full credit to Volendam they defended magnificently!
Game four and our final one of the tour of Spain saw us come up against Osasuna, we managed to get our first win of the tour in this match as we ran out 1-0 winners, Giorgio Chiellini got the only goal of the match as he scored another one of his trademark headed goals from a Pirlo Corner. I was happy to get the first win of the tour but it should of perhaps come sooner!
Despite not getting 4 wins out of 4 on tour, I am relatively pleased with the tour of Spain. We worked hard in every game and there was positives to take from every game, also some negatives which will be addressed before we fly out to America.