We began the day at the training field doing the coaching course for our partner clubs from Nor Cal, New York, and Arizona at the field adjacent to the Camp Nou and Mini Stadi. Coach Jordi Vinyals and Arnau Navarro were running a little late after their L’Hospitalet training session so the coaches took the opportunity to observe Danny and I run a session for the boys u10 and u12 teams preparing for the evening’s games against Sant Cugat. We did a nice technical warm up with the ball to get the boys loose and moving. Communication, Dribbling, Passing, Receiving, and lots of movement on and off the ball to get the boys rolling after having Thursday off.
We then ran what is called the double rondo that has become the patent of all the youth academies here in Spain. It’s pretty much a 4 v 2 + 1 Neutral in side by side adjacent squares. Transition from defense to offense and offense to defense are key coaching points. But it all comes back to moving the ball in 1 or 2 touches, being aware of what you’re going to do way before you receive the ball, and getting lots of touches in tight spaces so it becomes second nature. Once you take this to a huge playing field, it’s truly unfair to the opposition. We will have to post video once we get home so you can see the drill and apply it with all your teams.
Jordi and Arnau showed up to have a Q & A session with all the coaches. This years coaches clinic was much more hands on in terms of the coaches having to get involved and run their own sessions. Jordi would make corrections if necessary and offer suggestions of how to improve the session to attain positive results with the objective each coach is working towards.
On to the juicy stuff!!!
The game in the evening was against a top tier local Academy Sant Cugat who is currently in 3rd place behind Barcelona in Benjamin A first division. Another worthy opponent to test our players against the best in Barcelona. It was at a beautiful turf facility but the dimensions were on the small side. This meant we’d have to think that much faster and play the ball with much more pace to avoid being closed down by the opponent’s pressure.
Starting line up was Joel in goal. Rivaldo, Jeffrey, Jonathan in the back row. Romario and Lebron in the middle with Imanol up top. Our team has slowly started to adapt to the 7 v 7 game and looked much smoother in our build up out of the back. The boys have learned to find the 2 interior CM’s and outlet to the forward or switch the point of attack to the weak side outside backs. Our high pressure paid dividends early in the game as Imanol pressed their left back into playing a diagonal ball across the field. The ball was intercepted by Lebron who cooly 1-timed a rocket to the top right corner. Brilliant goal and 1-0 lead. The pressure kept paying off as Lebron stole a ball in the midfield and threw a quick combination with Imanol who slipped a through ball for Romario. Little Romario accelerated by the Center back with his explosive patented move and toe poked past the keeper then finished into an empty net. 2-0 at the end of 1st quarter.
2nd quarter lineup Joel in goal, Oscar, Jeffrey, Jonathan, Lebron, Romario, and Artur. Game was intense. Sant Cugat plays the game the right way. Great build up in the back looking to get forward with numbers and break our line of pressure with possession out of the back every time!!! None of this launching the ball forward and cross your fingers something good happens! Everything is rehearsed. How sad to see that all clubs work in this mirror image here and back in the US it is the exception to treat the ball with care instead of kicking the shit out of it. Rant over, back to the game. We got popped on a counter down the middle and their #10 CM drilled an unstoppable shot from 15 yards out to cut the lead to 2-1 at the half.
3rd period had Jonathan, Jeffrey, and Rivaldo back on. Romario in the middle with Jacob, and Pablo up top. Pablo pressed their back line defensively like no other! He caused them fits with his pace on the small field. We were losing the ball in key areas and one costly turnover led to the game being tied 2-2 at the end of the 3rd.
On the the crucial 4th quarter. Joel, Andrew, Chuy, and Oscar were now in the back row. Lebron and Romario in the middle with Stuart playing the forward role. Stuart has a unique nose for goal and always seems to be in the right place at the right time. Tonight was no different as he pounced on a loose ball off a corner kick set piece to give us the 3-2 edge midway through the 4th. Sant Cugat kept competing and got their reward once again off a turnover in the middle of the field. 3-3, 4 minutes left. We inserted Imanol back in to hopefully link up with Lebron and Romario to get a game winner. Danny’s line up change worked to perfection as Lebron threw a nice 1-2 combo and Romario did the rest. TEEEEEEEEEEENGA!!!! 4-3 in the last minute for a huge win against a top tier team pushing our record to 3-1 on the trip.
The Sant Cugat coaches were very impressed with the boys level of play and tactical understanding. The intensity and high pressure shown throughout the trip is the common theme when discussing the games with the opposing Academy coaches. One last game vs Almeda FC on Sunday. On deck for Saturday will be Barcelona Academy games at Cuitat Esportiva and the big showdown between FC Barcelona vs Atletic Bilbao.
Rob A says
Kudos! Thanks for the updates.
Andy Williams says
Hey just wanted to let you know that I am officially addicted to your blog. Keep up the good work, and I must say that I am very jealous of you and your kids. Can’t wait for another update
Gary Kleiban says
Thank you Andy and welcome to the community!!!
Thank you for all the wonderful updates! Curious, does anyone give you attitude for always wearing a NY baseball hat?
I can imagine it’s a great experience for coaches and players to travel abroad. How much does it cost per player? How do families pay for these trips? If you are taking your team every year it gets rather expensive. Wild guess $3000*12players*8years=$288k per team.
Regarding the level of competition, how many teams in California can beat or challenge your team in your age group? Why can’t you get the same game training and experience playing locally in the state? Is it really necessary to travel abroad to develop as a player? I read that most good players in the world are pretty much the same until 14 years old. The majority of the differentiation happens after puberty during the high school years due to lack of proper training and soccer education. Being immersed in a sport is critical between ages 15-19 to become a top-level player. Is it really effective to do it at ages 8-14 years? There are stats on academies all over the world on their inefficiency to develop world-class players something like <20%.
Please share your thoughts. Looking forward to your reply!
Gary Kleiban says
For our U10s:
At this point, there are around 6 teams in the age group that compete well with this group.
For our U11s (the ones in the video):
At this point, nobody can really compete.
“Is it really necessary to travel abroad to develop as a player?”
I’m assuming you’re talking about the team traveling right?
At this age, absolutely not. But it is at this age that foreign academies are most open to recruiting players.
I agree that the older age groups is where the cream of the cream differentiates itself from just the cream.
Is what really effective to do it ages 8-14?
Thanks a lot for the updates on your trip.
How long does a coach stay with a specific group at Barca?
Do they tend to rotate between age groups or do they specialize on a specific age?
Are they interested in young very talented/creative players that haven’t yet refined their decision making process?
Gary Kleiban says
I’m deferring all Barca-specific questions to Brian since he’s the one over there.
He’s ultra-busy as you can imagine, but keep the questions coming. I’m sure he’ll take some time to answer what he can when he’s back.
Please list the main reasons for traveling abroad to compete at the youth level approx. ages 8-14.
I am trying to justify the cost involved.
Gary Kleiban says
Some brain-dump opinions:
* Club and Coach brand.
(a) Locally helps in the recruiting department (both in terms of players to a team and coaches to a club), club expansion and credibility.
(b) Build out international network.
(a) Like I stated above, pro clubs are more amenable to signing a prospective talent while they’re young. Once a player is 14-18yo, you really have to be a phenom to get picked up. You see from the club’s perspective they’ve already invested in their local players for many years (they are a known quantity), so while the foreigner might be “good enough”, they’d rather stick with what they’ve got. (There’s other development reasons too).
You mentioned you’re trying to justify the cost …
well, that’s a tough one. Because this is a long term play on brand-building. And the ROI is difficult to quantify.
Geir Hansen says
Great website, first time I’ve been on it! Question about the double rondo 4v2 plus 1? Can you explain it for me? Seems interesting….
Geir Hansen says
You play 4v2 plus 1 in one square- when do you change square? When the 2”s win the ball?- and do they play 2 plus 1 v 4 in the other square? Or?