Arrived in Barcelona around 8am local time after a long exhausting trip.
9:30am – 10:30am
Went straight to Barcelona Academy at Ciutat Esportiva to tour the facility and watch games.
Watched a u9 game. Barca won 9-0
Watched Benny’s 2000 team play 11 a side for the first time this year to prepare for MIC Cup. They ended up winning 2-0 with goals in the last 5 minutes but were very slow and predictable in the offensive third. No pattern play or change of pace to create opportunities for first 50 minutes. Benny started as the center-left mid and showed some class touches that distinguish him but not much productivity from him or any player on the field. He was the #10 shirt as well. A side note, when Benny arrived to Ciutat Esportitva our entire group was coincidentially on his path to the locker rooms and gave him massive applausos! Benny never detained his walk and said hi to Paul and myself, smiled to the rest, and continued his way to locker rooms…..like a professional.
Left Ciutat Esportiva at 1pm to check into the hotel Husa Arenas which is in a nice area off Diagonal ave. Danny and I had zero down time to relax because Hans Schonhoffer and Raul Longui (Espanyol B assistant and head coach, respectively) came to pick us up to go to Espanyol-Malaga game at Cornella El Prat. It was full VIP treatment as we pulled into special underground parking (under the bleachers) and gained access via back doors and through the press area straight onto the field. We then climbed some stairs and sat in the VIP section where most directors are. At halftime there is VIP room with all kinds of food and drinks. The game was quality. Malaga clearly dominated possession and created chance after chance but got stuck by a brilliant Coutinho set piece from outside the box under the wall a la Dinho/Rivaldo. Malaga stayed patient and continued raping through great play from Cazorla and #22. Ruud then came on to form a double #9 partnership with the venezuelen (forgot name). Ruud pulled one back to tie the game off a point blank save by keeper and rebound. De Michelis scored game winner off set piece rebound shot as well.
From there it was straight to the Mini Estadi to watch Barca B vs Alcoyano in a 2nd division game. We also got great seats through our connections and sat at 50 yard line. A few seats over in the press box we spotted Andre Villas-Boas taking notes on the game. Wonder what’s cooking there?
Game was ok. Jonathan Dos Santos showed some quality although he was directly responsible for first goal when he lost his mark on a through ball. Sergi Roberto was complete quality and by far the best player on the field. Dongou scored his first career goal at this level to win the game 2-1 in 85th minute.
After that, it was time to hit the sack to catch up on the jet lag and adjust to Barcelona time.