It has been a tough week but a very good week, it’s been very beneficial for us.Richard Beale
The Development Squad, including a host of Under-18s, spent five days at the Catalan outfit, who are based near Barcelona.
Not only did Blues enjoy warm weather training twice a day, but a friendly fixture was arranged against Cornella’s first team.
Blues lost the match 1-0 but the players gained significant experience from the contest as well as the visit as a whole.
“It has been a tough week but a very good week, it’s been very beneficial for us,” said Richard Beale, Blues Senior Professional Development Coach, who led the group.
“I’ve been really pleased, the boys have done well.
“They have taken a lot out of the trip tactically and culturally.
“Young players don’t often get the chance to play a foreign first team. Maybe a foreign youth team, but this has been something completely different for them.
“And any time you are away with a group as well you unravel another layer of their characters.
“They are training together, eating together, doing things together in different circumstances and a different environment.”
The match against Cornella, who play in Spain’s third tier, was the first time they and Blues have locked horns since the partnership, which was set up via contacts of CEO Xuandong Ren and the Board.
“I remember speaking to Phil Neville on my Pro Licence course and he was saying that everyone thinks in Spain it’s Tiki-taka, they look to Barcelona and the national team and the way they play. But in general their teams tend to be 4-4-2 and get it forward to a front man.
“We found that against Cornella. They looked to hit the centre-forward, they were big on set-plays and I think it was a bit of an eye-opener for our lads.
“It was their first team, they had lot of seasoned pros in their side. It was like playing against a strong League One or Two side. It was a good test.”
Blues went into the game after double training sessions on Monday and Tuesday, so were ‘heavy-legged’, said Beale, who was assisted by Under-18s and Professional Development Coach Karl Hooper and Matt Doyle, Head of Academy Goalkeeping.
Eighteen players went out to Spain.
“It was a bit of a hybrid group. It was a good experience for our younger ones, the first year scholars, being around the 23s and you could get a barometer of where people are at.”
As well as the hard graft on the training pitches, Blues got the opportunity to see Barcelona defeat Atletico Madrid 1-0 thanks to Lionel Messi's goal at the Camp Nou on arrival last Sunday.