Wednesday, March 28
Day 4 began with Barca Atletic (Barca B) training at 10:45am at Cuitat Esportiva. They started with the typical rondos (circle keepaway) and dynamic stretches. Second activity was tactical training preparing for this weekend’s opponent who will likely press them off their goalkicks, marking all 4 of there options closely so they cannot play out of the back comfortably. They rehearsed several scenarios of how to beat the first line of pressure. Then it was an 11 v 11 game using roughly ¾ of the field. They finished the session with 6 v 6 small sided games going to goal. First to score stayed on. Games were two minutes in length.
Paul and I stayed after practice chatting with Jonathan Dos Santos. Paul has a great relationship with Zizinho, Gio and Jonathan Dos Santos’ father. Unfortunately, Zizinho is in London and won’t be around during our stay. Jonathan gave us his own direct mobile number to call him if we need anything while we’re here. We may take him up on that offer and see if he can come visit and take pictures with the kids.
After a nice relaxing lunch and afternoon, it was time to board the bus and refocus the team for the clash against RCD Espanyol de Barcelona. The sign of a great team is how they recover after an adverse result. The boys showed tremendous personality recovering from yesterday’s destruction by defeating Espanyol 2-0. Our intensity from kick off is what we expect from our teams every minute of every session and game. Espanyol matched our intensity but could not penetrate our initial line of pressure and was having a difficult time getting to our goal. We were not creating too many clear chances but had more possession and control of the match. The 1st quarter finished 0-0.
One minute into the second quarter our target forward, Pablo Figueroa, was tripped in the box and received a pk. Efrain “Lebron” Alvarez stepped up and calmly slotted the ball to lower right hand corner to give us the 1-0 lead. Romario Quintero was partnering him in the midfield and winning the battles to give us the necessary possession to keep Espanyol at bay. The back line was more comfortable and confident than on Tuesday night. Jeffrey Guzman, Rivaldo Acosta, and Jonathan Garcia were holding down the fort and keeping the ball moving from left to right. Joel Ayala got the shut out in goal making a few big saves.
The second goal came seconds into the 3rd quarter from some good individual play from Imanol Jair Garcia who cut his man twice and unleashed a 20 yard looping shot that found the top right corner. That was a dagger into Espanyol’s heart as they had come out with the intention of restoring order. I cannot explain how intense the rivalry between Espanyol and Barcelona is. We are not the real Barca, but we are wearing the jersey and representing the US version so it was a war in their eyes and they treated it as such.
*** notes, some things I didn’t mention and came to mind. The second I came off the bus and was greeted by an Espanyol director he grabbed my polo shirt’s Barca emblem and said “que mierda tenes esto puesto aqui?” (translation: “why the fuck are you wearing this here?”). He was referring to why I would have the audacity and balls to wear that at their facility. I quickly defused the situation explaining that we were Barcelona USA from Los Angeles. The competitiveness between the two clubs is extreme!
Also, at the conclusion of the game, once we were back in the locker room the boys were yelling and chanting our Visca Barca song thinking they were alone in the intimate confines of the dressing room. Little did they know all the locker rooms are connected by open vents. There was a loud unanimous cry, “PUTO BARCA PUTO BARCA HEY HEY! PUTO BARCA PUTO BARCA HEY HEY!” … The espnayol boys teams in other locker rooms getting ready for their training sessions were letting us know how they feel about Barca. LOL