International Champions Cup 2018: Singapore Round Up

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SINGAPORE - JULY 28: Mesut Ozil of Arsenal walks back to the dressing room after warm up ahead of the International Champions Cup match between Arsenal and Paris Saint Germain at the National Stadium on July 28, 2018 in Singapore. (Photo by Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images for ICC)

Arsenal, Atletico Madrid, and Paris Saint Germain all made a trip to Singapore as part of their pre-season tour. Pre-season is often belittled, however, all three sides can take many positives from their time in Singapore.

International Champions Cup 2018: Singapore Summary

Arsenal

Arsenal have definitely come out of the International Champions Cup 2018 Singapore leg as champions. Although they came away with one loss and one draw, the confidence in the Arsenal camp will be through the roof, due to the promising sights of their new signings and youngsters. Eyebrows were raised when Matteo Guendozi was signed, however Arsenal fans seem elated to have him in the heart of midfield, after two standout performances in Singapore. The Frenchman showed composure and maturity on the ball, whilst effectively displaying his excellent passing range. Guendozi was playing in defensive midfield, and excelled in not only winning the ball, but distributing it to the attack. His display in Singapore showed a lot of promise and is definitely staking a claim for a starting spot in Unai Emery’s team.

Despite having almost a full strength side, Emery gave his youngsters a chance to show their talent in Singapore. Emile Smith-Rowe was the star of the first game, scoring an impressive goal on his debut whilst providing three assists off the bench against Paris Saint Germain. Despite the fact that he is still only 18, he has already become a fan favourite with his impressive displays in Singapore and humility off the field.

Arsenal youngsters impressed throughout their tour in Singapore, however, their inexperience was highlighted in their penalty shootout loss against Atletico Madrid in the opening game.

Star strike duo of Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre Emerick Aubameyang shone with some exquisite link-up play in their 5-1 victory of a weakened PSG side. Yet, the question still remains as to whether Unai Emery is willing to accommodate the two up front or whether he has plans to redevelop one as a winger. Another unanswered question from the tour is who will be Emery’s first choice goalkeeper, Petr Cech or new signing Bernd Leno?

Atletico Madrid

A mediocre trip to Singapore for the Spanish giants. Atletico Madrid can take many positives from their first victory over Arsenal in a thrilling penalty shootout, despite the absence of some of their key player, they were still able to set up in a rigid defensive system and capitalise on the counter-attack. Their style of play and Simeone’s sophisticated tactics were prominent among their second string team. The experience and composure came through in the shootout earning Madrid two points (the amount a win in the ICC gets a team). Goalkeeper, Antonio Adan, shined in the second half of the game, making multiple saves and scoring the winning penalty.

Madrid’s loss to PSG had come with many learnings for Simeone and his preparation for the season. Their fighting spirit was conveyed after they managed to claw back from two goals down in the second half and continue pressing until the very end. However, a lapse in concentration late in stoppage time cost Atletico a chance at another shootout. Atletico had their chances in both games to secure all the points in 90 minutes. Unfortunately, several missed opportunities by Madrid’s forwards highlighted the need for the clinical finishing of Antonie Griezmann. Simeone seemed confident regarding his chances in the domestically and European competition, and his passion was displayed through his behaviour on the touchline and intensity throughout.

Prior to the upcoming season, Simeone will want to fine-tune his back line to ensure they do not get caught out on the counter-attack and have numbers back to control and defend against the rapid counters.

Atletico Madrid should see their overall trip to Singapore as a positive, as their work ethic and philosophy was explicitly conveyed through both games. With Ronaldo no longer at Real Madrid, Atletico will look to capitalise on this opportunity and put forward a strong challenge for the domestic title.

Paris Saint Germain

Paris Saint Germain came into Singapore missing some of their key players who were still resting after a tiring World Cup.

The absence of their stars was prominent in their 5-1 defeat to Arsenal. Timothy Weah impressed after winning a penalty and causing problems for the Arsenal back line. His pace and agility seemed too much for the fullback, Sead Kolasinac, who struggled defensively. The first game must have set off alarm bells in Thomas Tuchel’s head, as it highlighted PSG’s dependency on their star players. During their first game, other youngsters failed to impress or make a case for their spot in the first team.

The second game in Singapore, against Atletico Madrid, was far more entertaining and lively. Marco Verrati and Angel Di Maria were both back for this fixture. PSG dominated in the first half, but could only take a 1-0 lead at the half. They brought the same momentum into the second half and doubled their lead. Atletico were able to claw back into the game, scoring twice to level the score. However, youngster Postolachi was able to capitalise on a defensive error and secure the win for the French side.

The midfield pairing of Verrati and Rabiot looked promising as they were able to control the tempo of the game and dominate the possession.

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