promised pain in the transition, and FC Barca Singapore provided it in spades, romping to a 5-1 that hardly flattered them in the least. Camp Nou Singapore certainly enjoyed it as Grilled trialled a completely new-look midfield, that definitely hinted that it could do with a lot more tweaking.
This outcome was hardly outside expectations, given the depredations of age on Grilled's squad, but Bacelar's omission of Clément Meyer
- and to a lesser extent Wong Ping Shun
and Low Aik Jia
- really hammered in the extent of his seriousness on making a clean break with the old guard. Ang Leong Kum
and Clark Won
were relegated to the wings, not exactly their best positions, while the midfield core would be composed of fresh returnees Yuta Nakakita
and Mohammad Ramli Saliman
, along with the 20 year-old Neeraj Muthyala
While brimming with promise, this was not of the class required to trouble matured stars on the level of Vikas Alluri and Hong Kim Feng, especially at their happy hunting ground. Yuta might have impressed with Arcturules, but the FC Barca interplay was another thing altogether, and his relatively ponderous ground game was cruelly exposed by Jørgen Ove, who then strung it into a marvellous lob over Wong Tian Han
Grilled were not totally outmatched, and Tian Yonghang
led the charge back, carving a path past Jeremías Ávila, before letting loose for his fifth goal against FC Barca in as many league meetings. It would prove a brief respite, sadly, as the hosts reclaimed their lead barely three minutes later - captain Benedetto Diletti played the attacking fullback role to perfection, rolling a tantalizing pass in for Hakim Niamuddin to nick home.
It was only going to get worse, as Gene Filippone
appeared rushed back from injury against his will. He didn't get anywhere close to the nigh-undefendable Ove, who made it look all so easy as he slashed by the Birds' entire left side in the 30th, before his team found themselves on easy street with Georg Weidl's punishing of Filippone's slowness to release, six minutes on.
The match had honestly been over as a contest before that, with Grilled seldom even advancing into FC Barca's half. The signs didn't bode well for team solidarity either, with Rinor Isufi
's body language saying some very bad things as he traipsed about waiting for a through pass that never came, while Low Aik Jia
barely even watched the game, as he stewed on the bench.
Only good work by Yuki Irie
and Yuta Nakakita
prevented Grilled from sinking without trace, as the duo put in close to a double shift. Their tireless marking kept Kwan Kuanzhi, who had been enjoying a tremendous day, from collecting the goal he so deserved, and the Hong Kong international reluctantly made way for Tero Kaukonen after 65 minutes. This followed Liow Kok Aik's entry for Niamuddin, as Suradhish Acharya probably deemed the situation safe for him to earn some experience.
And indeed it was, with Grilled fighting merely to limit the damage, with FC Barca swinging at every opportunity. Tian Yonghang
was playing as a stopper by now, and he did well to insert himself between Ove and a long pass out, resulting in a booking for the Dane after he failed to draw his kick back.
This wouldn't help too much, as the Birds simply found no way to hang onto possession reliably, and Neeraj Muthyala
's callowness showed when he tried a risky trick pass without backup, losing it to Liow. The FC Barca sub would beat Yuki Irie
for pace brining it into the box, and just about squeeze it between him and Wong.
Acharya responded with his third and final substitution, bringing Mok Tze Seng on for Hong, as FC Barca resolved to ride it out. Isufi got ahold of himself in the final minutes, but his few runs came to nothing, and Grilled saw the match out by withdrawing a grateful Gene Filippone
, with two minutes remaining.