The Australians will hope to add to the 6-0 win against Kerala Blasters with a strong performance against the La Liga outfit.
It’s raining rains and football in Kochi. The Toyota Yaris La Liga World tournament started on Tuesday with hosts Kerala Blasters losing 6-0 to A-League side Melbourne City. The eyeballs move on to the next game of the tournament, where Melbourne face La Liga side Girona FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Friday.
Melbourne City looked composed and dedicated in the first match and facing a side that finished 10th in Spain will help their morale to challenge for domestic honours. New manager Warren Joyce is no stranger to success and his sides have traditionally punched above their weight.
Girona, a side that beat European champions Real Madrid 2-1 last season, surprised one and all when they finished 10th in the league. The Blanquivermell are owned by the City Football Group (44.3 %) and Pere Guardiola (44.3%), the brother of Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola. Girona are also scheduled to play Tottenham Hotspur in their pre-season on August 4. The Spanish club will start their season against Real Valladolid on August 19.
Girona are being managed by former Real Sociedad tactician Eusebio Sacristan, who prefers the 4-3-3 formation. However, they regularly played with three-at-the-back last season and as such, either the coach or the club with need to adapt to each other’s ideas. Eusebio had a ratio of 1.5 points per game at Sociedad during his 112-match stay at the club.
Melbourne, meanwhile, look comfortable playing a 4-2-3-1, with their two-man central midfield key to everything they create. The pair of Luke Brattan and Riley McGree can outwit any opposition when they’re in complete sync and the Blasters’defence tasted the anecdote on Tuesday.
Joyce is a former Manchester United Reserves and Wigan Athletic manager who’s known for his resolute defences and free build-ups. Synonymous to the Alex Ferguson idea of football, Joyce would look to stamp his authority on the side early, with his second win on the trot. The club stood third in the A-league standings last season and with exposure of this level, they would be looking to go all the way this time around.
Girona FC‘s skipper Aleix Garcia Serrano said, “Both Melbourne City and Kerala Blasters are good teams, Melbourne had a great first game and will be high on confidence. It will be an interesting match and we have to be at our best to beat them.”
Melbourne City head coach Warren Joyce said, “I wouldn’t say we played with any real aggression against Kerala Blasters, but we certainly asked the players to put in a shift and help build their match fitness. We are focused on making sure we put the things we have worked on at training into the pitch.”
The match will be played at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi which has a capacity of 60,000, making it the fourth largest stadium in India.
Both teams have announced their squads for the tournament and will look to give as many players minutes on the pitch as they possibly can, in prepation for the upcoming season.
Moreno, Bounou, Chimeno, Muniesa, Lopez, Jimenez, Copovi, Riera, Nogue, Colon, Manyandzouana.
Manager: Eusebio Sacristan
Bouzanis, Jameison, Schenkeveld, Malik, Atkinson, McGree, Brattan, Vidosic, Caceres, Halloran, Wales
Manager: Warren Joyce
What to Expect
This is the first tournament of both clubs’ respective pre-seasons, so it would not be too harsh to expect a little bit of rustiness from both sides. Both managers will look to give their players a chance to prove themselves before their new campaign begins in earnest. In all likelihood, Girona are expected to win this one, with Melbourne putting up a good show. The Yellow Army can expect a good match.