REAL LIFE : THE TALE OF TORREVIEJA : TORREVIEJA MIGHTY AGAINST HERCULES

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To quote a famous Portuguese manager who had just seen his team fail to win a single pre-season game, “the real football starts soon.” I doubt Jose Mourinho was really too bothered at Chelsea’s inability to claim a victory in their glorified exhibition matches and the CD Torrevieja coach, Pedreno, would be wise to follow suit.

Torrevieja were excellent on Friday night. The Vicente Garcia welcomed it’s biggest crowd of the pre-season campaign and saw it’s team not just match, but out-play a side being tipped to win promotion from Segunda B.

Pedreno shuffled his pack once more, giving first starts to Matheu and Sanchez and rested Luis Carlos. He was looking to Junafran to break his duck from open play and the striker, being supported from the flanks by Brani and Adrian, had a gilt-edged chance after just eleven minutes. Once again the burly front-man, signed with a reputation for being the poacher much needed by the club, fired straight at the ‘keeper.

There was also an early sign of the pre-season weakness that has troubled Pedreno’s men. The coach prefers a zonal marking system when defending corners, whilst leaving three men in attacking positions, and whilst the attacking intent must be applauded the fact that 50% of the goals conceded in pre-season have come from set-pieces must be a concern. Hercules should have gone ahead when a corner was delivered from the left. The big centre back Connor had a free header but was only able to direct the ball straight into the arms of Oscar.

From this moment the chances fell exclusively to CD Torrevieja. In the twenty-fifth minute they launched a quick counter. Sanchez, looking tidier than his bushy beard in midfield, released Brani on the right. The young winger took one touch too many, allowing the angle to be narrowed, and his shot was beaten away by Ivan for a corner. Ten minutes later the same two linked up again. Sanchez delivered the perfect weight of pass for Brani to attack, this time from the left. Again he took a touch or three too many and allowed the defender time to get back and block his shot.

Before half time there was a chance for another corner scare for Torrevieja, this time the free header going wide, before Juanfran had yet another chance. The free kick was whipped in by Adrian and Juanfran, wrestling free of his marker, headed the ball wide meaning the teams went in to the break at 0-0.

As ever, the second half had more substitutions than chances, the best of which falling to Sanchez on the final whistle. The ball fell to him just inside the area and the combination of ungainly bounce and horizontal body position saw the ball sail over the bar.

It may have been 0-0 but it would be a hard man who suggest this was not Torrevieja’s strongest pre-season showing. Defensively they were solid, well marshaled by Matheu and Eddy. In midfield they combined the grit of Jorge and Burguillos with the energy and vision of Sanchez, and in the front three they showed pace and movement that will, in time, lead to goals.

On Wednesday night the side travels up the road to Preferente side CD Thader.