Day two of the La Manga Topfotball training camp saw the first friendly battles get underway. It was sure to be an interesting day as Asane lined up against Arendal, before Haugesund faced off against a new look Ranheim side. Capping it all off later on were Viking and Brann, who went head to head in an important pre season game.
The midday sun was sure to affect both Arendal and Asane, who kicked the La Manga friendlies off yesterday. The heat was palpable and a drinks break was totally justified mid way through the first half.
The game was a tight knit affair and the contrasting styles between the two sides was clear from the first whistle. Mons Ivar Mjelde's Asane side played a solid 4-4-2 formation, with new striker Vadim Manzon often coming deep to receive the ball, it was a classic Mjelde tactic and it worked well in the first half against a much more fluid Arendal.
Asane took the lead via a freak own goal from veteran Petar Rnkovic, but in all honesty it was all the Bergen side had to show for a relatively solid first half performance.
After the break, there was a clear switch in dominance as Arendal started to carve open the Asane back four with relative ease. Ylldren Ibrahimaj turned in one of the best performances that I have ever seen from a player in pre season as he weaved between the Asane players and created Arendal's equalizer, a deflected effort from Tobias Olsvik. The performance of Viktor Lovgren is also worth noting, as the left back was sensational both going forward and defensively.
The final score of 1-1 was fair with all things considered, as both sides had shown promising signs in each half. Arendal's performance in particular stood out, as the side showed that you can be effective against tough OBOS Ligaen sides playing football that is more pleasing on the eye.
The next match saw Ranheim face off against a strong looking Haugesund side. Haugesund included in their starting XI players such as Filip Kiss, Haris Hajradinovic and Per Kristian Bratveit.
Ranheim also fielded a strong side but were clearly much weaker on paper as the match began. As anyone will tell you though, football is not played on paper, and Ranheim performed brilliantly to run out as 3-2 winners.
New signing Michael Karlsen bagged two goals which will surely lift his confidence going into the series opener. Haugesund were way too open at the back, with Haraldseid and Stolas pushing up far too high on the pitch allowing Ranheim to counter attack effectively.
It was a dismal performance from the European hopefuls and clearly the Eliteserien side have a long way to go before even thinking about replicating last season's successes.
The final game of the day was arguably the most interesting from a neutral's perspective as Viking took on Brann.
Viking's financial woes have been well documented this pre season but the club fielded a strong XI as they looked to overturn a Brann side featuring the likes of Daniel Braaten and Fredrik Haugen.
Viking started the game strongly and Samuel Adegbenro opened the scoring within minutes. The young Nigerian was inconsistent last season and will be hoping for a better goalscoring output this year.
Brann reacted strongly though and took control of the game in the latter stages of the first half. They equalized after some great work from Daniel Braaten, who teed up Fredrik Haugen on the edge of the box. Brann's midfielder struck the ball sweetly into the corner, giving the Bergen side the goal they deserved.
Viking eventually won the game in the second half. Zymer Bytyqi showed good skill in the box and set up Adegbenro, who thumped the ball into the back of the net. It was a wonderful finish from the Nigerian and will surely give the player much needed confidence going into the season's opening game.