Preseason games really mean nothing. It's actually a time for the players to get back their fitness, learn how to work together, and experiment with formations and personnel. Martin Jol's quotes afterwards seem to imply that was what he was after. Of course, that doesn't stop fans and supporters from obsessively watching them and drawing vast conclusions from the outcomes. That was the situation I found myself as I tried to follow the game on a low quality feed from Costa Rica.
I don't have that much to say about the game itself. I wouldn't want to draw too many conclusions from the game even if I had watched it with high quality video and announcers I could understand. Even in the highlight package it's hard to identify which players are doing what. That doesn't mean I'm not taking anything away from the game. There were a few thoughts I had while watching.
- Derek Boateng looked much more comfortable with the ball and playing passes forward than I expected. He may not be a creative engine in the midfield, but he's more than just a destroyer.
- Maarten Stekelenburg is much more comfortable with the ball at his feet than Schwarzer ever was. I expect to see much more passing back to him and building the attack out of the back than before.
- Pajtim Kasami looked pretty good. I was hoping to see him in a deeper more central midfield, more like what Dembele played. He did well in the position he was put in though, which seemed to be more of a second striker.
- When Bryan Ruiz has space to operate, he is deadly. He made some very good moves in the box to free him self up for shots. It still remains to be seen if he can find this space in the Premier League however. His pass to Alex Kacaniklic on the play that drew the penalty was also a thing of beauty.
- Steve Sidwell is still Steve Sidwell when it comes to tackling and fouls. He was quite dangerous in the box on set plays however. I'd still like to replace him, but that is a pretty useful skill to have around.
- Kacaniklic made a very smart play to draw the foul for the penalty Berbatov converted. In the past I would have expected to see him try to use his speed to stay ahead of the player, possibly loosing the goal scoring opportunity with a bad touch or having to try a difficult shot across the goal. What he did using his body to shield the ball and drawing the foul shows a lot of growth in his game.
The full highlight package of the game is available, though as I said; not the easiest thing in the world to follow:
Kasami and Ruiz also were interviewed for their reactions after the match: