By mandate the day began waaaaaay too early for us. We had arrived back in L’estartit at 2 am after our Champions League adventure and had to get up at 8 am, eat breakfast on the fly to depart to Palamos for the MIC Cup 2012 opening ceremony.
Every team is present and it was quite the spectacle. The opening ceremony was unique: 3 players from each team would walk the field as representatives for club and country. Nice for the teams to interact with some of the most competitive youth players of all ages from around the globe.
The show was followed by the Brazilian u19 youth national team playing the local Palamos club side. It was a thrilling 4-0 victory for the verdeamarella. Inspiring for the boys to see such quality on the field. We departed at halftime because our team bus is on a strict schedule.
Returned to the hotel for a light lunch, team meeting, and tactical walk-through of set piece offense and defense. An afternoon siesta was in store for the boys who had arrived only 40 hours ago and were still not acclimated to the time change.
Team bus departed for L’escala Stadium at 4:30 pm. Boys are pretty well travelled after last year’s Barca trip, so they were in their “mini-professional” mode. Quiet, concentrated, focused. Game faces were on with our MIC debut only an hour away. We arrived to the stadium and went straight to the dressing (locker) room. Each team gets an entire locker room equipped with benches, showers, restrooms. A very professional environment they engrain into their players at a young age.
FC Barcelona-USA Academy versus Kitchee Escola (Hong Kong)
Both teams lined up in a 4-3-3. We started:
Xuxu, Mikey, Louie, Togo
Jonathan, Misa, Uly
We immediately began to impose our style on the game. Lots of possession and combination play. Opening up the field and getting it to our wingers hugging the line in Jona Estrada and Uly (a little Neymar clone). It took 6 minutes to break down Kitchee Escola’s resistance with a beautiful piece of ball movement that started right and was reset to centerback who all 1-touched it to switch the field and find open space on the left **(see video), Alex then carved up a couple opponents and served far post for a nice 1 touch finish by Jonathan Estrada.
The flood gates opened up and it was 4-0 at the half. We made some changes brining on Nathan, Max, and Richard up top for the 3 forwards. Luis and Pooky subbed into the interior midfield positions. The ball kept moving all over the field. Locals were quite impressed with the display of football. The Hong Kong group, (former barca escola of Hong Kong) were amazed with the possession football played by these mini-professionals. At the end it was a 9-0 romp. Goals were scored by Misa (3), Uly (2), Jona (2), Luis (1), and Alex. Assists by Alex (2), Misa (2), Luis, Pooky (2), Xuxu (1), and Justin (1).
Great way to get the first game out of the way and confidence high. The team got back to hotel, got some dinner, and it was time for lights out and needed rest. The coaching staff travelled to Torroella De Montgri to watch Atletico Madrid, the defending champs at this U12 level, live. Atletico was impressive. Good tactical understanding, lots of toque (touch), and plenty of match-winning talent including an African kid that looked to be a man amongst boys in all facets of his game. It takes one of these types of players on the field to aspire to win these types of competitions.
Back to the hotel to watch Champions League football. Real Madrid cruised in a 5-2 romp with Kaka shining like his old self. Di Maria returned to action after a lengthy spell out with muscular injuries to dazzle with a nice Messi-esque chip. Now it’s time to lay my head on the pillow and brainstorm for solutions to the problems we will face in the coming games.