Barca Day 7
No need or urgency to wake up early as there were no planned activities in the morning.
First thing on the agenda was attending Cuitat Esportiva to watch Academy games. We arrived at 4pm to watch the FC Barcelona Alevin A (2000’s) team vs Sant Andreu. The highlight for our group was seeing our own Ben Lederman in action live for the first time representing FC Barcelona. We were treated to a thrashing! 16-1 was the final score after 4 quarters. More interesting was that in the 4th quarter Barca refused to score and it was a boring 0-0 to cap off their biggest win of the season.
Surprisingly, Barca and Sant Andreu were all tied up at 1-1 after the first 7 minutes. Benny and company were knocking the ball all over the field with the opposition chasing. No surprise there! It was shocking for Danny Lederman, Bens dad, to see there Alevin A shooting on goal from distance on the day. There were some magnificent goals from all angles. He says that is a rarity as they try to build and get to goal with perfection and finesse every weekend.
More on the game: Benny was sporting the #6 shirt. Think that carries any weight around here? He alternates between #6 and #10 on the weekends. Coach is who decides jersey numbers before each match in the locker room. What an honor for Ben to put on the azulgrana every weekend to emulate his idols. Ben scored the 3rd goal after nice combination play on top of the 18 saw him get in on the right side of the box. He calmly slotted the ball near post for the 3-1 lead. Ben was subbed at the end of the 1st quarter along with his entire team with the scoreline showing 4-1.
A completely new line up was on the field for the 2nd period. They kept the intensity high and ball moving left to right. More dribbling that I’m used to seeing from any group in the Academy but effective dribbling going vertical to goal. 10-0 halftime score.
Ben and his starting unit returned for the 3rd quarter. If the game was lopsided to begin with, imagine when a Sant Andreu player received a straight red for deliberately saving the ball on the goal line with his hand to deny a goal. The referee didn’t hesitate and followed the rule book, straight red. Now they were down a man and playing FCB with a 12-1 score and almost an entire half of play left. OUCH! Game finished 16-1!
Athletic Bilbao vs FC Barcelona
It was now time to go see el Loco Bielsa and Athletic Bilbao vs the best show on earth. We pregamed it at Princess Sofia hotel on Avenida Diagonal to watch the Osasuna vs Real Madrid game. Lots of people (myself included) were banking on Madrid dropping points and the title race getting tighter. Madrid had not won in their yearly visits to el Reyno de Navarro in 3 years. Sure enough, Benzema’s wonder goal and Ronaldo and Higuain’s double made sure that Barca would not be cutting into the lead this weekend. 5-1 final.
Toooooooooots al Camp! Paul, Danny, and myself got hooked up with some pretty good seats on 2nda lateral side of the stadium. Seats were just to the left of where the VIP (presidential box) is located. I was beaming with excitement as 2 of my coaching role models were going head to head. Pep and Bielsa are 2 of the hardest working coaches in world football and truly play aggressive attacking soccer every single time their teams step on a pitch no matter who the opposition or where. They instill a confidence in their team and make sure they are always the aggressor. High pressing is a trademark!
The game was a beautiful sight for these eyes. It’s one thing to see these guys on TV and a completely different spectacle live. You rub your eyes in amazment. It’s hard to believe that it is really Messi and company down there when you see this poetry in motion. From beginning to end I could not stop taking in every last detail.
Bielsa put on a show on the sideline. Pep was up the entire game encouraging his team. It was amazing to see Athletic pressure so high less than 48 hours after playing in Germany and spanking Schalke 04 in the Europa League. They also planned to perfection and did not allow Barca their trademark building out of the back on goal kicks. Valdes had to bypass his CB option frequently. Athletic also had the most possession of any team against barca this season (look this up to verify the number and if it’s just a home game stat or overall…i read it somewhere here). Game ended 2-0, you can find a match recap on most websites as I will not do a detailed match analysis due to time constraints while I’m here.
Off to bed to prepare tomorrow’s final friendlies for the u10 boys team vs Almeda.