Riga United invade Tallinn
14 / 03 / 2017
Match Reports from our preseason victories in Tallinn
Kristine JK 0-7 Riga United
Riga United invade Tallinn
Every soul in football acknowledges the sweet taste of victory, and with a win as grandiose as 7-0 on their first game in another country, the celebrations don’t get any bigger. Such was the atmosphere in the black cats’ dressing room yesterday that continued further on into late hours of Tallinn’s old town.
The win, however, held great significance, far beyond the touchline. It was about achieving a mindset that they lacked previously, overcoming the demons of the previous season, and a march of hope into a new season that holds great promises if they continue this confidence.
Technically, United had their game on point. The first goal was unconventional, with right back Lucas flying an early cross over the park that caught the opposition by surprise, and was deftly picked up by striker Karim who masterfully chipped the ball over the keepers flailing right arm. The second manifested shades of a style of play that manager Awada has been striving to incorporate since his time at United - ‘no nonsense’ one-touch football that unlocked the defence smoothly and the goal tapped in by Arakelyan with an unselfish assist by Niels.
After securing a two goal lead, the boys looked a bit edgy, almost slipping into old bad habits on the pitch, but the midfield quartet of Niels, Karim, Marco and Julian managed to steady the tempo. The team received a boost by keeper Edgars, who looked determined to keep a clean sheet, with an impressive penalty save, predicting correctly and diving full stretch to the right, parrying the ball away.
Tactically, United has been experimenting with the 3-4-3, a formation that has been in vogue this footballing season after Conte, Guardiola, etc. Despite playing a 3-man defence, that has proven successful for Awada for the second consecutive game, the team looked stable and solid, dictating the rhythm of the game with Ali as the last man and Niels dropping to a holding role to start the attack from the back. With wide wing-backs, United were able to clog the flanks and slow down counter-attacks. Perhaps, fine tuning the timing of some of the through ball runs from the wings would make them menacing to any orthodox latvian league team next season.
Lucas captured the limelight as the manager’s man of the match with one assist, and many solo take-ons especially when he chased down the striker who was released dangerously for a one-on-one with Edgars. Minus the semantics, it was indeed a Kuhnian shift in his composure as a player and a defender, steadying the entire squad single handedly at times from behind while maintaining perfect line. We’re sure to see more of his class next season.
The most impressive aspect of their game was their consistency for 90 minutes - bringing on fresh legs in the second half did not dampen their aggression and attacking mentality, and United strode on to secure 5 more in succession till the final whistle with Arakelyan and Karim picking up one more each, and Neils, Julian and Arturs Meisters individually.
They looked united on the pitch, with every man’s strengths masking the other’s weakness. They played without hesitation, and with full of flamboyance. Indeed a commendable record for Awada who has been grooming his thoroughbreds all by himself for the lack of coaching manpower at the training grounds. Overall a 10/10 display by United, and they look to take it easy for their second touring fixture against Rumori Calcio today.
Rumori Calcio 0-4 Riga United
United boys complete Tallinn plunder in style
The squad made an impressive run in Estonia with 11 goals and 2 clean sheets in two days
Riga United’s idea of taking it ‘easy’ was nothing less than a 4-0 win against Rumori Calcio for their second fixture on tour. The line up which consisted mostly of reserves, was successfully able to emulate the the first team’s form from the victory against Kristiine JK, and gave the coach some promising talent to depend on for the upcoming season.
Despite having played 90 minutes the previous day, the aces Julian Lock, Sofian Berrahal and Ali were able to lead the team with even spirit unleashing Aslak Storro and Emils Petersons open on goal a few times. Urs Schall created many problems for the back four as a towering lone striker, but the home team were able to subdue the attack and organise some quick counters hitting the woodwork once. It was yet another Edgars show, with the keeper taking part in some outrageous saves at both ends. The young sensation Emils lived up to his hype with brilliantly timed runs on the wings and some fancy footwork outside the 18-yd box.
The second half saw game-changer Niels marshall the attacking four in a high pressing game right from the top. Aslak finally drew first blood a couple of minutes into the second half followed by a calm finish by Emils who, along with Niels, was quick to punish Rumori on a defensive blunder. An hour of running around on few hours of sleep saw the men falter in the midfield, but the defensive experience of Sofian managed to quell any serious threats. Marco Spinola, who has been enjoying great form in recent games was able to organise an impressive partnership with Niels in the middle of the park enabling the play to widen, and multiplying the attack from the wings. The fast feet of new sign-on Ivan Balaban and Emils raided through the defence and a quick passing game ended with Niels assisting Patricio for the 3rd goal. The final nail in the coffin came as header by Roshan from a floating corner by Emils.
All credit to Awada for his tactical rotation of the squad over the two days. We’re definitely witnessing a new United - one that thinks and plays, one that is fiercer, and one that runs boldly without fear while thoroughly enjoying itself. The Estonia tour has helped usher a fine sense of camaraderie among the lads and reminded everyone of the essence of Riga United. The team heads back into training on Monday for their next home pre-season fixture against Lielupe on 19th March.
Thank you to Roshan Rao for writting the match reports
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