Paddy Davitt: Schalke Six - What to look out for in City’s German tour finale
PUBLISHED: 12:26 19 July 2019 | UPDATED: 12:26 19 July 2019
Norwich City have been tested in both their previous German tour friendlies over recent days. But things are likely to step up a notch on Friday night against a Bundesliga club who were in the Champions League last season.
1. Daniel Farke certainly thinks he can play at centre back. But you sense Jamal Lewis himself might need some convincing
A rather untimely burst of injuries and fitness concerns around the likes of Christoph Zimmermann, Ben Godfrey and Timm Klose has prompted Farke to deploy the accomplished left back alongside Grant Hanley in the centre of a depleted backline for the majority of the two previous German tour games.
Lewis clearly has the physical attributes to handle the aerial demands of the role.
But stepping into midfield to spark the play is one area of his game that is being tested.
The Northern Ireland international revealed last season 'end product' was something he needed to add to his overlapping bursts down the flank.
Lewis is a thoroughbred who could adapt in time, but one suspects this experiment may be short-lived when the regulars return.
2. Nasty but nice
Norwich's previous two tour opponents appeared to relish claiming the scalp of a Premier League foe.
Neither managed it, to be fair, but in both the Arminia Bielefeld and SC Bonner friendlies there was a bite and an edge to the proceedings.
The duo are somewhat further along in their pre-season preparations as they gear up for their respective league campaigns in Germany, but no quarter was asked or given in the manner they rattled into Daniel Farke's squad.
A red card and a series of yellows for the opposition is testament to the combative streak on this tour. But Farke insisted after Tuesday's latest outing he welcomed a 'nasty' edge to the warm ups.
Although the City head coach did joke he told Emi Buendia he might not throw him on for the final few minutes if he was not able to stay out of muck and nettles that saw Moritz Leitner, Onel Hernandez and Philip Heise all come in for rather close attention.
3. Adam Idah was born with a 'gift' for scoring goals
So said Farke in another of his poetic turn of phrases when asked to describe the Republic of Ireland youth international's two-goal burst on his first start since being promoted to the Canaries' senior ranks.
Idah's natural goalscoring instincts were in evidence for both his first half strikes.
The opener was a turn and hit in one flowing motion, with no recourse to where the goal was from Patrick Roberts' pass, before a superb piece of anticipation to get across his marker and guide Heise's whipped delivery back across the keeper into the far corner.
Every hurdle put in front of the teenager has been cleared with what looks relative ease since arriving from Cork.
That is why Idah is not part of the talent drain heading out on loan to further his personal development. Farke feels he can make the same leap as Max Aarons, Lewis and Ben Godfrey.
4. Mo is the king maker
Where Leitner fits into the equation against Schalke could be an interesting signpost to how Farke is thinking when the real business starts at Liverpool on August 9.
In both tour games out here in Germany, Leitner has notably been deployed in front of Norwich's back four with the responsibility to set the play and knit back to front. Given the aggressive intent shown by both Arminia and SC Bonner there have been occasions when he has ran up cul-de-sacs or failed to extricate himself from the swarming press.
When City have turned over the ball there is also a noticeable lack of defensive protection.
That is not Leitner's game but what he does bring is a soothing ability to set the tempo and bring others into the mix. He also looks in superb shape. Endless social media updates over the summer showed Leitner working out as he prepared for his Premier League bow.
At his best he could be a real asset.
5. Patrick has got the memo
It is abundantly clear why Norwich City were so keen to borrow Patrick Roberts from the Premier League winners, Manchester City.
The 22-year-old has the technical nous and the incisive quality in forward areas to supplement the urgings of Buendia and the clever movement of Teemu Pukki, when the Finn is fully back in the mix after his gentle start to pre-season after an abbreviated summer following European qualifiers.
Roberts has caught the eye with his set piece delivery and passing range leading to goals in both his first two Norwich outings.
Chart his recent progress and some highs up at Celtic, in a series of loan spells, contrasts with an injury-hit season in Spain at Girona. Roberts has just been rewarded with a new deal at the Citizens.
That should signal this is a player who can flourish at the highest level. But he needs to perform for the Canaries when it really matters.
6. Play it again, Sam
Sam Byram looked eager to make a good first impression when he was introduced for a second half cameo in midweek just hours after his move from West Ham was officially announced.
Max Aarons is already a tough act to follow and his meteoric progress was underlined by a new five-year deal in recent days. But Byram must relish the challenge or he would not have opted to cut short what appeared from the outside to be a frustrating stint at West Ham.
Too much, too young perhaps for a player who was touted with the very biggest clubs in the land after his breakthrough at Leeds.
Byram is still only 25 and if he can rediscover his early promise then City have pulled off a major coup. Farke already knows what Aarons can offer. Louis Thompson's untimely injury exit against Arminia forced him to turn to the England youth international earlier than he would have liked.
Byram should get another chance to push his claims.