What an odd affair. First off, someone needs to explain to Werder Bremen what the word 'friendly' means because apparently they have no idea. Diving, pulling players down by their kits, asking for cards, I mean I know the Germans and the English aren't the best of friends on the pitch, but it was a bit ridiculous. Thankfully everyone calmed down early in the second half which made the game a lot more enjoyable.
The only new player to start the second half was Yossi Benayoun and let me tell you, I've seen Yossi play before, and maybe he was just revving to go, but the guy was electric. Everytime he got the ball he would push it up field and try to spark some sort of attack. Unfortunately, no goals came from these forays, but his effort was commendable. He also seemed to put others at ease with his playful manner, especially Nabil El Zhar, who for the first time seemed relax on the first team and made some nifty dribbles and passes.
The only goal in the second half from our side was a long pass from Xabi to a screeching Voronin, who found himself all alone and slammed it off the Bremen keeper into the net for his second goal. I thought he might have been offside, but apparently not. It was nice to see his efforts on the day rewarded with a brace, after which, he was taken out for Fernando Torres' debut.
Before I get into El Nino and Babel's pre-season debuts, I need to recognize the player I feel was the Man of the Match. Voronin may have scored two, but Momo put in a flawless performance. About ten minutes into the second, I realized why this outing was so different from many poorer, other ones he's had in the last year. He did his usually 'destroying' role to perfection, but this time, instead of throwing the ball away after or trying to force the pass, he passed the ball back or was patient and found the open man. I honestly don't think nor recall him turning over the ball once. If this is a sign of things to come, Masche might have some competition for his starting spot.
Fernando Torres came on with about twenty-five minutes left to play and was very unlucky not to score. His effort was genuine as he won a free kick almost immediately, beating out three hounding defenders. One of his chances was a rebound off a Kuyt screamer that the Bremen keeper was lucky to save, while the other was from a pass from Benayoun (I think) where he tried to lob the ball past the keep but narrowly missed the goal. It was a good performance overall, he worked well with others and once he gets that first goal, I have a hunch more will follow.
Unlike Torres, Babel seemed to have the first game jitters, though by the end he had overcome them. He was clearly trying to do too much, the good thing was he showed the ability and the wherewithal to get away with that. He took a couple of questionable shots, but he earned one of them by playing keep away from the Bremen defense. Give him some time and some discipline and he's going to be deadly.
If I had to point out any negatives, it would probably be our defense and more specifically Arbeloa. Apparently, Rafa gave the fellow Spaniard free range to do what he pleased and it ended up costing us a goal. With about five minutes to go, Loning found himself all alone on the left, where Arbeloa should have been, brought the ball down and crossed it to another awaiting Bremen player who notched it home. I love Arbeloa, but he definitely needs to be more disciplined if he's going to play the flanks or at all, for that matter.
The rest of the defense in the second half was decent with Agger, Carra and Darby putting in solid performances. The game overall was quite fun to watch and if it's any indication of the coming season, some of our older fans might have cardiac arrests. I'll try to get highlights up as soon as possible, Auxerre on Friday.