It’s probably safe to say the Timbers midfielder Franck Songo’o is the team’s resident La Liga expert. Having prepped at La Masia, Barcelona’s famed youth academy, and possessing La Liga playing experience with Real Zaragoza, Songo’o knows the Spanish style and can certainly help his teammates with preparations for Wednesday’s international friendly against Valencia CF (7:30pm PT, Live webstream at www.portlandtimbers.com, 750 AM The Game / La Pantera 940).
“La Liga is the most technical league with the most quality play on the ball in Europe,” Songo’o said. “There’s a lot of passing and moving. … Valencia really likes to possess the ball and they attack as a team, they don’t attack player-by-player.”
Songo’o helped Real Zaragoza gain promotion to La Liga during the 2008-09 season in Spain’s Segunda División and made several appearances for the team during its 2009-2010 La Liga campaign. Add to that his experience growing up with players like Lionel Messi and Cesc Fabregas in Barcelona’s youth academy and it’s fair to assume Songo’o has a strong grip what kind of style to expect come Wednesday.
“My stay in Spain was really fun and really tough, you’ve got to work a lot and you’ve got to be at your best every day,” Songo’o said. “You play against really, really good teams in Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atlético Madrid, Valencia, Athletic Bilbao. It’s really a tough league.”
One connection Songo’o still has with Valencia is defender Jordi Alba, who didn’t make the trip to Portland with the team because he was called into the preliminary Spanish national team squad for the upcoming EURO 2012 tournament. Alba went through Barcelona’s academy with Songo’o.
Wednesday’s match will undoubtedly provide a tough test for the Timbers, much like the Dutch champions AFC Ajax showed last year with a similar possession-focused, quick passing, team attacking style.
“Valencia was in the Champions League and they won La Liga a few years ago,” Songo’o said. “They’re the third best team in Spain after Real Madrid and Barcelona, so it’s a really big team with big history and they’ve got a really good squad with some players on the Spanish national team.
“It’s good for us and good for the fans to see a quality team like that. It’s good for us to have 90 minutes as a team against them and show our stuff also.”