That’s the view of Academy Manager John McDermott after our youngsters beat BV 04 Dusseldorf 2-0 in their first game at the tournament on Saturday lunchtime, before slipping to a 1-0 reverse against VfL Wolfsburg in the afternoon.
Our results, coupled with a superior goal difference, leave us second in Group Two on three points – three behind leaders Dinamo Zagreb heading into tomorrow’s matches.
“It’s been a very challenging day against good tactically aware opponents,” John reflected. “It underpins the reason we come to tournaments like this as we’re playing against types and styles of opposition that we don’t normally play against.
“When you face some continental teams, mistakes get punished probably more than they would at home and also teams are more difficult to break down.”
In our opening match against Dusseldorf, Lloyd Ross netted a diving header from Anthony Georgiou’s cross to put us ahead, before Georgiou himself swept home after a melee in the area to double our lead.
Goalkeeper Harry Voss made a fine save to ensure our two-goal advantage remained intact, while Daniel Akindayini and Shayon Harrison went close later on.
That 2-0 win gave us some momentum heading into the second match against Wolfsburg but, after Shayon Harrison missed a one-on-one opportunity, the German side took the lead through an own goal on the stroke of half-time.
Josh Onomah and Akindayini subsequently squandered chances to equalise, as we slipped to a 1-0 defeat.
On Sunday, we face Bayer Leverkusen (11am UK time) and Dinamo Zagreb (5.30pm UK time) – and John expects it to be another competitive day.
“They’ll be two very tough games but from a tournament point of view all the teams have everything to play for,” he added.
“It’s very tight, but hopefully we’ll get a couple of good performances and good wins.”