This week, the IMG Academy soccer program boys' program traveled to Spain to train with the world's top club â FC Barcelona. IMG Academy soccer program senior captain Gabriel Nunez has dispatched these reports.
Day 3 was yet another success. We were given the opportunity to train with some of the top coaches from FC Barcelona. The training was short but rigorous, ending with a quality scrimmage. After returning to the hotel, we ate lunch and were given some time to relax and immerse ourselves in our studies, then we prepared for our game. Around 3:30 our team met and began mentally preparing ourselves for the game. After receiving words of wisdom from our coach, we took the field for our first game in our Barcelona tour.
As the first whistle sounded, we appeared to be slow out of the gate, with many players taking too many touches. After both sides received their fair share of chances, the half ended 0-0. Early into the second half the deadlock was broken and we fell 1-0 to our opponents. This deficit did no last long however and the right wing, Rodrigo Hernandez, responded with our opening goal. After that, the flood gates were open. Captain and local hero, Stephen Ravazzoli, managed to put our squad ahead after courageously rushing the goalie and denying a clearance with his chest and calmly putting the ball at the back of the net. Ethan Cartwright stepped up to the plate driving home two hard-fought GOLAZOS, Ending the game 4-1. Upon returning home, bathed in the glory of victory, we presumed to feast, and relax in the sauna.
Day 4 was a triumph. Another short, but intense training session with the Barcelona coaching staff really propelled our team towards a better understanding of the game. We worked on dribbling with the ball, which all of our teammates picked up with ease. We then suited up and headed up to the mall, which was only 3 blocks away from the hotel. After stalking up in massive amounts of cold weather gear, we got in the mental zone required for our game.
The match started out with very high energy. We employed a new strategy (3-5-2) that gave us a better offensive advantage. This was in part due to one of our center defenders being injured. We took the upper hand in the game and dominated the possession, while creating dangerous chances, hitting the post at one point. We ended the half at 0-0. Going into the second half of the game became more competitive and the opponents slipped in behind our defenders and put one away. As the second half progressed, we began to press with fierce intensity. After having 2 goals called back under questionable circumstances, Jopus Grevelink pushed one by the goalie in the closing minutes. After a wild celebration, the game ended 1-1. Although the game ended a tie, it was one of the harder fought games. Coach Mike Parsons was pleased with our performance. We returned to the hotel, relaxed in the sauna, and went to sleep.