Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Teutonic travels

So, three games into our pre-season schedule, after a relatively low-key series of friendlies in Germany and Austria, and we've collected a win, a draw and a defeat.

First up were German minnows Chemnitz FC, who - it being Friday 13th - inevitably beat a youthful side with an early goal. Debutant Romain Amalfitano was lively on the left-hand side of midfield, while Gael Bigirimana also made his Magpies bow, appearing from the bench with 25 minutes to go. The closest we came to equalising was through a Little Big Lad finish, though he was ruled offside. Possibly for the best, given what happened last time he scored in an opening pre-season fixture...

Three days later we took on AS Monaco at TSV Landsberg's ground, running out 1-0 winners. Amalfitano and Bigirimana both featured again, but generally it was an older side that took on the French outfit, not least because Steve Harper was between the sticks - his shirt number indicating that Tim Krul is now literally our number 1. The goal came from Demba Ba's bonce just after the half-hour mark, while strike partner Big Lad came close to opening the scoring in the first minute, his backheel rebounding off the post. Had it been the Mackems, it would of course have gone in... Afterwards, Monaco manager Claudio Ranieri was effusive in his praise for our playing style and achievements last season, and wished us well for the forthcoming campaign.

The trio of friendlies was completed with our most challenging fixture to date, against Turkish side Fenerbahce in Ritzing, Austria. Dirk Kuyt was among those lining up for a relatively strong opposition XI, but we took the lead through substitute Mehdi Abeid. Big Lad, Little Big Lad and Papiss Cisse were all unfortunate not to double our advantage and we were punished at the death by a Cristian Baroni equaliser, a disgruntled Silver Fox muttering about us having fatally switched off and it potentially being "a valuable lesson".

Next up is a game against Olympiakos on Friday. Will we have any new faces to parade then?




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