Review: Swansea City 1-0 Stade Rennais
6th August 2016
Swansea City completed their pre-season campaign with another victory, a narrow 1-0 win against French Ligue side Stade Rennais at the Liberty Stadium - thanks to Jay Fulton`s headed home from a Barrow corner.
New signing Fernando Llorente was straight into the starting line-up after completing his move yesterday, while new arrivals Leroy Fer and Mike van der Hoorn also started. Lucasz Fabianski was the only Euro 2016 player to feature, while Federico Fernandez was out with a tight groin.
Leon Britton led the team out as captain, and played his usual deep-lying midfield role, usually slotting in-between the two splitting centre-halves of Amat and van der Hoorn, while Fer and Cork played alongside each other in a 4-man midfield behind the lone striker - Llorente.
SWANSEA: Lukasz Fabianski, Kyle Naughton, Mike van der Hoorn, Jordi Amat, Stephen Kingsley (Angel Rangel, 69), Leon Britton (capt, Jay Fulton, 69), Jack Cork, Leroy Fer, Nathan Dyer (Modou Barrow, 58), Wayne Routledge (Jefferson Montero, 58), Fernando Llorente (Oliver McBurnie, 58).
SUBS: Kristoffer Nordfeldt, Jay Rodon, Botti Bia Bi.
STADE RENNAIS: Benoit Costil, Edson Mexer, Pedro Mendes (capt, Sylvain Armand, 77), Clement Chantome (Mehdi Zeffane, 64), Kermit Erasmus (Afonso Figueiredo, 77), Wesley Said (Giovanni Sio, ht), Steven Moreira (Romain Danze, 77), Pedro Henrique Konzen (Adama Diakhaby, 63), Yacouba Sylla, Benjamin Andre, Ludovic Baal.
SUBS: Paul Nardi.
The big Spaniard up front looked very capable of leading the line by himself, very strong on the ball and held it up well and brought other players into play. He had little to work with in the first half, Dyer and Routledge weren`t providing much in the way of crosses for the experienced front man. Despite his open goal miss at the far post, inside the 6-yard box, there were plenty of positives. He`s not had any time yet to play with his new team-mates having only signed a contract the evening before, but you could just tell that he`s been there and done it.
The 31 year-old looks more than capable of being a hit with us, especially playing in front of Gylfi Sigurdsson - I just hope we can deliver good crosses to him in and around the 6-yard area.
Dyer and Routledge had good moments in the first half, but the pair aren`t good enough and don`t offer enough of a threat to be our first choice wingers, especially when you see the likes of Barrow come on and make an instant impact the way he did. Montero struggled a bit when he came on to try and get the better of his full back, so Barrow and one of the other three - possibly Routledge - would be my winger choice for Burnley.
In the centre of midfield, Cork and Fer were an excellent and solid pairing. Cork was as hard-working and as reliable as ever, always accurate with his passing too, while Leroy Fer offered a little more going forward. The only criticism of Fer is that he can be slow to track back and do the defensive work, but other than that he should be starting next week.
In defence, Stephen Kingsley didn`t look as assured as I was expecting him to be at left back, though he doesn`t look out of place on the front foot. Naughton appears to be stepping up to the standard, and he`s also worth considering at left back after switching sides when Rangel replaced Kingsley.
Jordi Amat and Mike van der Hoorn were very rarely troubled in defence. They were never tested so it`s difficult to judge them. Amat had a worrying moment when a player got the better of him and was able to create a chance as a result. Van der Hoorn was one of the top performers of the afternoon - excellent with the ball at his feet and solid in the tackle. With van der Hoorn, Llorente and Fer in the side, we have much more of an aerial presence at set pieces.
Guidolin waited until just before the hour mark to make changes, Barrow and Montero came on in place of Routledge and Dyer, while McBurnie replaced new signing Llorente.
Seconds after coming on, Barrow went on a 50-yard run or more down the left side before setting up McBurnie in the box with a low cross, but it was cut out for a corner. McBurnie also looked decent when he came on. He didn`t have a great deal to do but he too looked capable enough, he was stronger than he looked on the ball and linked up well with his team-mates, we`ll hopefully see more of him in the cup competitions.
Fer blasted a shot just wide of the target from long range, before the Swans finally got off the mark. Barrow sent in an-swinging cross from right-sided corner, and Fulton did brilliantly to send a header into the far post.
The Swans looked much stronger and threatening when Barrow came on, his injection of pace was missing in the first half, he almost scored himself when he cut inside and curled a shot that hit the top of the crossbar.
There`s only so much you can take from a friendly. It`s only a week before the season starts, none of the players want to get injured or give too much before the season opener, but they also want to impress to earn a start.
There were elements of our play that were great to see. The main one being how we played further up the pitch and applied pressure on the opposition. We were also a lot quicker on the ball and in possession compared to last season. Unless players were running with the ball, none of them had it for very long and were taking one or two touches most of the time.
So for Burnley, we`ll surely welcome back Sigurdsson into the side, Llorente needs his creativity behind him. In midfield, Guidolin faces a tough decision, but I would go for Cork and Fer, but Britton is still an option to consider. The Italian will hopefully opt for Barrow on the right wing, and you wonder if Montero has done enough to convince him that he`s worthy of a start. I think their work-rate and defensive work is also a factor, and Montero rarely contributes to that side of the game.
Another headache he could have is if Borja signs as expected. Who does he go for up front? The experienced Llorente or the younger Borja with the superior goalscoring form? Some fans had wondered if Guidolin would switch to a 3-5-2 system next season, as he used it with great effect at Udinese. The system, more a 3-4-1-2, would allow for Sigurdsson to play with both strikers, but the midfield would include two full backs, with Cork and Fer in the middle and none of the wingers featuring.