A blitz, first sightings and friends reunited - a guide to the Interwetten Cup in Meppen
- Credit: Archant
Ipswich Town conclude their German tour with the Interwetten Cup in Meppen tomorrow afternoon. Andy Warren looks ahead to the competition.
How it works
Four teams, four 45-minute games, one winner.
That's the Interwetten Cup in a nutshell.
Hosts SV Meppen run a tournament (in this case sponsored by a betting company) every summer, with the Blues, Fortuna Dusseldorf and FC Utrecht joining them for this year's version.
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Ipswich take on old friends Fortuna in the first game of the day (1pm UK time), with Meppen and Utrecht playing in the second semi-final an hour later.
Then there's a third-place play-off between the two losing semi-finalists (3pm) before the grand final, kicking off at (4pm).
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If the scores are level at the end of any of the 45-minute games then they will be decided by a penalty shoot-out.
Pre-season tournaments are common-place in Germany, with many taking this same 'blitz' format.
Ipswich boss Paul Lambert had organised for Stoke to be involved in last season's event, with the Potters still competing in a three-team tournament alongside Meppen and Hamburg after his departure in the wake of relegation.
"I played in it when I first signed for Dortmund, so for me it's not new," Lambert said of the format.
"For you guys it's new but for me it's not.
"For the team it's maybe new, 45 and 45 in my book I think is 90, so it's a game."
Lambert fielded completely different teams in either half of Saturday's loss to Paderborn and will split his players again for this one, with different sides playing in the two 45-minute games.
The Town boss could opt to mix up the sides which faced Paderborn, experimenting with different relationships on the field and looking at potential pairings ahead of the new campaign.
We've been made to wait for our first sighting of James Norwood in an Ipswich Town shirt.
The striker, who completed his move from Tranmere last month, only joined up with his new team-mates the day before they flew to Germany and wasn't involved against Paderborn as a result.
He's been working with the Blues' fitness coaches but has now begun training with the rest of the squad, although he has admitted he is feeling a little rusty following six weeks off.
He looks certain to feature in Meppen this weekend, so the only remaining question is - does Lambert use him in the semi or save him for the final?
Then there's Luke Garbutt, who could make his first appearance for the club after completing his season-long loan move from Everton.
Norwood sat and watched the game at Paderborn alongside Gwion Edwards, Jon Nolan, Alan Judge and Freddie Sears, with that quartet struggling with injuries.
Judge has joined in full training but it remains to be seen if he will be risked in competitive action as he continues to protect the wrist he broke on international duty last month, while it seems unlikely either Nolan or Edwards will return at this stage given their lack of time on the training field.
Sears is targeting a November return from his cruciate knee ligament injury.
Missing out on a renewed a rivalry
Sadly we're not going to experienced a renewed rivalry between Lambert and Dick Advocaat.
Advocaat was in charge of Rangers during much of Lambert's time as a Celtic player. Until a few days ago he was in charge of Utrecht, but he's been replaced by John van den Brom.
In a typically combative Old Firm clash between the two rivals Lambert was left unconscious on a stretcher after colliding with Jorg Albertz' knee while giving away a penalty, with the incident costing the Town boss four teeth.
Lambert put no blame on the part of Albertz, but he was not happy with Advocaat's part in the incident.
"I'm told that that Dick Advocaat was in the referee's room during the interval demanding I should have been given a red card for giving away the penalty," Lambert said at the time. "I was out cold on the stretcher in the dressing room, waiting for the ambulance, and he's trying to get me sent off.
"I don't have a problem with Jorg, he saw a situation and played for the penalty. He also apologised to me.
"But what Advocaat did still disappoints me. It is not professionalism, because my injury could have been much worse for all he knew."
For what it's worth, Fortuna Dusseldorf boss Friedhelm Funkel was in charge of MSV Duisberg during Lambert's time at Dortmund, with both sides winning at home during their Bundesliga clashes during the season (1996/97) the Town boss spent in Germany.
There's no evidence to suggest any history between the two.
Once word of Town's plans to spend time in Germany this summer became public, thoughts instantly turned to a potential reunion with old friends Fortuna Dusseldorf.
The two clubs have been linked for more than a decade, after a group of Fortuna fans travelled to Portman Road and fell in love with the Suffolk side, and the bond has strengthened in recent years.
Both sets have fans have made regular trips to each other's games, and there was a successful pre-season game between the two in 2015.
It will be nice to see that relationship bloom further this weekend.