Swansea City are still looking for their first win of their Pre-Season Summer Tour of Germany and Austria, as they suffered a narrow 2-1 defeat against La Liga side SD Eibar.tled
After playing in two 60-minute games back to back on Saturday, Potter prepared his side for their first full 90-minute game this evening following their trip from Germany to complete their tour in Austria.
Before the game, the Swans boss said that there was going to be “less rotation” and wanted to “get more game-time into people” as he looked ahead to the season’s opener at Sheffield United, which is now only 11 days away.
Potter adopted what looked like a 4-2-3-1 shape:
Roberts – van der Hoorn – Amat – Grimes
Fulton – Carroll
Routledge – Dhanda – Montero
Firstly, the attacking trio of Montero, Dhanda and McBurnie were the positives from the first 45 minutes. Montero, in particular, was busy down the left flank. He made his trademark runs, getting to the by-line often but his crosses were never met by a team-mate. He also dropped deep and central at times to offer defensive support which is something we rarely saw when he was in a Swans shirt a couple of seasons ago. Dhanda was also lively sitting in between the lines and looked to get the ball into the likes of Montero and in-behind to Oli McBurnie, who did a decent job up front on his own. Without trying to single out Wayne Routledge (again), he was pretty anonymous on the right flank and saw little action in front of Connor Roberts.
Again, it was clear to see what Potter’s intentions are with the team. Playing a passing game on the floor as well as out from the back, but Eibar were able to pressure in the defensive third and there were moments early on where we were getting caught out in vulnerable positions. Hopefully, we’ve not shown off too much what is currently a weakness that any opposition side would look to exploit.
It was Montero who had our first attempt on goal following a corner that he helped win. His cross from the left was headed behind for a corner. Dhanda took the set piece, a decent out-swinging cross aimed at Mike van der Hoorn at the front post. It was cleared away but only as far as Montero who moved inside but snatched a shot that flew wide and over the target.
Swansea’s tactical problems from last season are still very evident, however. There’s a lack of attacking creativity in the middle. Dhanda has got plenty of quality and there were some bright moments from the 19-year-old, but there’s still something severely lacking in there. As a result, we keep looking to get the ball wide and just send in crosses. We struggled at times to get players forward to help work the ball through the centre channel and almost always resorted to wide play.
That limited attacking plan was even more frustrating to witness in the second half after Oli McBurnie was replaced by Nathan Dyer. Like in the first friendly game, the winger played through the middle and he never had a chance trying to get on the end of crosses, whether they were aimed low or high.
I don’t want to sound overly critical here. It is a friendly after all. There were some decent passing passages here and there. One-touch passing moves that were very welcomed, but you just hope to see them help us create better, more clear-cut chances in front of goal. It was good to see some quick give-and-goes out wide, rather than the usual statue-esque and backwards play.
Potter probably wouldn’t have been overly pleased with his side’s habit of constantly losing possession and their struggle to keep the ball for any length of time, but he’ll recognise that Eibar are a top-flight side who offered a decent test.
Whilst you can’t take these friendlies too seriously, whether you saw the game or not, you can still comment on the squad as a whole and the lack depth throughout. Both Ayew’s were missing, as well as skipper Federico Fernandez and Kyle Naughton, suggesting that they are close to leaving.
But in Fernandez’s absence, we got to saw Joe Rodon in action in the second half, who came on in place of Montero as Potter switched to a back three. The 20-year-old looked composed and confident in possession at the back, and he had a presence about him. He headed Grimes’ long free-kick back across goal for his centre-back partner Amat to head in a late consolation goal from close range.
Eibar’s opener saw a well-worked goal from an initial throw-in on the right. They were able to work the ball in behind the Swansea defence. A low cross was then played across and it was an easy finish at the far post.
Eibar’s second was even more disappointing from our point of view. A ball was lofted in to Enrich and he chested the ball down with his back to goal, held off Amat and fired past the goalkeeper on the turn.
Late on, Dan James showed a rapid turn of pace to counter through the middle, running roughly half the length of the pitch to get into a goal-scoring position, but his tame, low shot was easily saved.
Looking away from the friendly performance and the squad as it stands, there’s currently a lack of good quality partnerships across the pitch. For me, good partnerships make a massive difference. The two centre-backs, full-back and winger, two central midfielders, the attacking midfielder and striker. Good link-ups between these positions can make a massive difference and so far and can’t see many promising ones yet. It was unfortunate not to see Connor Roberts and Joel Assoro down the right. The latter didn’t feature and hopefully, the rumours that he’s suffered a long-term injury are wide of the mark. The central midfield partnership of Fulton and Carroll needs improving, and we haven’t see Olsson and Montero down the left flank either yet.
Swans: Kristoffer Nordfeldt (Erwin Mulder ht), Connor Roberts, Jordi Amat (capt), Mike van der Hoorn, Matt Grimes, Jay Fulton, Tom Carroll, Wayne Routledge (Dan James 79), Yan Dhanda (Adnan Maric 65), Oli McBurnie (Joe Rodon 56), Jefferson Montero (Nathan Dyer 56).
Subs: Steve Benda, Kyle Naughton, Cian Harries, Ryan Blair, Aaron Lewis.
SD Eibar: Yoel, Pere Milla, Ivan Ramis (capt, Jose Antonio Martinez), Pape Diop, Sergi Enrich (Marc Cardona 68, Paulo Oliveira, Jose Angel Valdes, Pedro Leon, Nano, Unai Elgezabal, Alain Ribeiro.
Subs: Asier Resgo, Ruben Pena, Pablo Hervias.