After three games in four days, we had some tired-looking bodies at our 8 a.m. breakfast. An early departure for our day trip and the guys were soon awake as we arrived at Ciutat Esportiva de Sant Adria, the practice facility of RCD Espanyol and the home stadium of the Espanyol B team. While there we got to see all the facilities that a La Liga team has to offer and we had a close-up view of the B team morning practice.
The first noticeable difference was the giant sprinklers that pumped water onto the artificial turf field before practice to lean and wet the surface for the morning session. After the players had their morning stretch, the practice began with a warm-up including some juggling ball work and plyometric/footwork exercises. The group then moved into some tight possession work and our guys were definitely in awe of the obvious quality and speed of play on show. They then finished with a crossing and finishing exercise that had a couple unbelievable goals. Coach Derek paid extra attention to the goalkeepers session and I think our goalkeepers got an idea of what their practices will look like next week!
From there it was back on the bus and a short trip across the city back to Camp Nou. Here we grabbed lunch and then began our tour of the famous 98,000+ seat stadium and museum. The museum was a constant reminder of the pure quality and success that FC Barcelona have enjoyed over the years and the final stop on the tour was a view of the field and pitch-side access, which the guys took advantage of with numerous selfies! From there it was the club shop, with some (Coach Derek and Curry) taking longer than others!
We were then back on the bus and into downtown Barcelona for some more time to explore all the city has to offer. Starting off at the top of Las Ramblas, groups went off in different directions and had a few hours to enjoy some more tapas, indulge in their favorite gelato, or simply walk around and immerse themselves in the culture of the city. It was then back on the bus to the hotel, where we enjoyed another great team dinner and some well-deserved free time for the players.
Tomorrow is our last full day in Barcelona and we will enjoy some team bonding games/exercises in the morning, followed by the RCD Espanyol vs. Atletico Madrid game. Check back tomorrow for an update!