Pre-Season Friendly 1: U13 Div 1 @ Goodwin Park

We’ve already had two games this season. But in both of them we didn’t have enough numbers to fill a team. So I consider this game against the U13 Div 1 team the first valid experience in a competitive environment.
I think my preparation for the game was better than in the previous one, just because I was more comfortable with the experience. My team talk can definitely improve in terms of framing our moment and motivating the players, but tactically it was quite sharp. I ran through our general concepts, playing styles, gave them a few team tasks and emphasized that If the game got easy (as it was likely to happen due to the age difference) they should keep going and trying to score goals.
I couldn’t line-up my best back line, since my best CB wasn’t available, so one of our new boys would start as a CB. I also lined-up a left wing that had just one session in the team because one of my wingers turned up late. But the spine of the team was really strong. Three midfielders that not only are good and smart but have been training since I started, excellent wingbacks, one experienced center backs and a beast of a center forward.
The playing style was there from the beginning. We pressed really high, all the way up to the CBs and GK and scored in less than 2 minutes. It ended up 8-2, exposing to me some problems and some things that are already working.
Positives:
1 – The game plan was followed and the players kept the intensity even after we were way ahead on the scoreboard.
2 – The pressing was effective and the players were hungry to get the ball back
3 – Even when they got out of the back we manage to thwart their attempts to move forward
4 – We must have finished more than 30 times. Too bad I didn’t count
5 – We started to show some glimpses of patience to circulate the ball instead of hitting a brick wall when there’s no space.
Negatives:
1 – As expected, when they managed to get out of the back sometimes they caused trouble in the central areas because our transition wasn’t quick enough
2 – The team struggled to switch the ball. It’s still not natural to most players to restart the circulation of the ball.
3 – The combinations in the final thirds are still not happening. We looked for the most obvious solutions: Running and shooting from outside the box; Moving the ball to the frontline even when they weren’t the best passing options
4 – The back line wasn’t very solid when clearances were needed. Specially the new center back, which is understandable since he comes from a club with different coaching standards.
In general it was a good experience. I don’t want to play them again, as it wouldn’t be very motivating to our players. But it doesn’t hurt to have an easy first game to build confidence and work on the shape of the team. Unfortunately I didn’t film it, because I thought I had lost my camera (I found it later), but I’ll film all games from now on, even when I don’t have a high spot.
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