DSC Arminia Bielefeld 1 Norwich City 3: Canaries sign off German tour in style
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Norwich City turned in a stylish performance to complete a 100pc winning record on their German tour against DSC Arminia Bielefeld.
Steven Naismith opened the scoring before Andreas Volgsammer cashed in on defensive hesitancy. Cameron Jerome slammed home a penalty in the 45th minute before a tactical change to three at the back from Daniel Farke led to a commanding second half capped by Nelson Oliveira's wonderful solo finish.
From here on in each Norwich City friendly is a search for clues into the footballing mind of Farke. The pre-match atmosphere whipped up by the Bielefeld fans, the pumping house music and the raucous rendition of the Arminia anthem was a world away from homely Cobh or Lowestoft or the midweek trip to wet and wild Werl.
Russell Martin led out a side that in many aspects bore the hallmarks of a line up that could feature at Fulham on the opening weekend of the Championship season.
Martin was deployed at right-back in the continuing absence of the injured Ivo Pinto. Christoph Zimmermann and Marcel Franke reprised their central pairing from the 2-0 friendly win against MSV Duisburg, with recent signing James Husband completing the back four.
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Alex Tettey patrolled in that protective role in front of the defence behind Mario Vrancic and Naismith. In wider areas Josh Murphy, a man Farke labelled a 'brilliant' talent during the week, was again given another chance to impress with Marley Watkins in the berth vacated by his brother's Newcastle United switch.
Watkins is a different prospect. More powerful perhaps than Jacob and on the evidence of his Barnsley showreel a cool, composed goalscoring threat. City's attacking threats had little chance to impress in a cagey opening 15 minutes. The early sparring was cagey. Bielefeld's approach appeared right out of the Farke playbook; patient possession at the back intended to draw City on.
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Christoph Hemlein burst the wrong side of Husband but with Angus Gunn advancing rolled his low shot wide of the far post.
Husband's wayward pass seconds later prompted Farke to turn away in disgust after Gunn and Franke had cleverly evaded Bielefeld's high line. That, in essence, will be the test on a weekly basis for this Norwich City side. Finding pockets of space to release their dangerous attacking weapons hinges on due care and attention from the Canaries' in their own final third.
There was more evidence of that uncomfortable 'getting-to-know-you' phase when Franke hesitated waiting for Gunn to clear his lines before taking matters in hand.
Yet the first lapse came from the hosts in the 37th minute. Jerome's tireless work ethic forced a turnover from Julian Borner before a cutback to the unmarked Naismith who slotted past Stefan Ortega Moreno.
Bielefeld were level within two minutes, when Zimmermann was unable to halt Voglsammer who rifled past Gunn from close range. It was perhaps an unwanted echo of last season's brittleness. Set aside the relaxed surroundings of pre-season and the onus on performance far more than result and it clearly must remain a cause for concern the ease with which a straight ball triggered such alarms.
But an effort for balance, Norwich's forward thrust appears to have survived the seismic transition that has taken place in the dugout. Watkins raced into the penalty box and was shoved by Florian Hartherz in the final moments of the opening period. Jerome hammered the penalty away in the last act, with the cat calls from the bank of standing Bielefeld fans accompanying the players from the pitch.
Then we saw a real, tangible glimpse in Farke's world. City emerged with the same personnel for the second period but a back four had become a defensive three. Martin and Franke flanked Zimmermann, freeing Husband and Watkins to raid as wing backs and look for the sheer pace of Murphy and Jerome up top. That extra man in midfield underpinned a far more controlled, measured spell from the visitors. Jerome skied over on his left inside the six yard box. Murphy was equally imprecise before the marauding Jerome poked a foot out to divert the ball against the base of a post.
It was his last meaningful contribution before gingerly leaving the field to be replaced by Oliveira who added a classy individual third. City's squad may be reduced in number by design but there is still plenty of quality. And plenty of raw material for the astute Farke to mould.
• Arminia Bielefeld (starting line up): Moreno, Schutz, Klos, Salger, Borner, Hemlein, Prietl, Voglsammer, Dick, Hartherz, Staude.
• Goal: Voglsammer (39)
• Norwich City: Gunn; Martin (Godfrey 79), Zimmermann, Franke, Husband (Lewis 82), Tettey, Watkins, Naismith (Reed 79), Vrancic (Maddison 79), Murphy (Wildschut 82), Jerome (Oliveira 74). Subs (not used): Matthews (GK).
• Goals: Naismith (37), Jerome (45), Oliveira (86)
• Referee: Markus Wollenweber
• Attendance: 4,166