MATCH REPORT: SC Verl 1-4 Watford

WATFORD got their tour of northern Germany off to a perfect start, with a 4-1 victory over fourth division side SC Verl. 

Odion Ighalo continued his fine run of pre-season form under new boss Quique Sanchez Flores, with a brace to make it five in three fixtures. 

Ikechi Anya scored a fine volley to make it three prior to the break, before giving away a penalty in the second-half which was converted by Hamadi Al Ghaddioui.

The win was put beyond doubt with 15 minutes to go, courtesy of substitute Lloyd Dyer, who netted a wonderful solo goal to make it four and seal the win.

The Golden Boys lined-up for their first game in Germany against SC Verl in a 4-2-3-1 formation. 

Hornets midfielder Connor Smith and striker Fernando Forestieri both missed the game due to minor knocks suffered in training.

In goal for the Hornets was Heurelho Gomes, and he was marshaled by a centre-half pairing of Sebastian Prodl and Craig Catchart, with Tommie Hoban and Daniel Pudil operating as full-backs. 

Etienne Capoue and Ben Watson were the two central-defensive midfielders, with Anya, Almen Abdi and Ighalo playing in attacking roles just behind front-man and captain Troy Deeney. 

The Hornets nearly had the lead in the first minute, after neat hold-up play from Deeney saw him set Ighalo up for a volley that came close to looping over the keeper. 

SC Verl responded with a chance of their own minutes later, when Grosseschallau’s free-kick went inches wide of Gomes’ post. 

It was to be Watford that would open the scoring though, after Ighalo pounced on sloppy defending to slot home the game's first goal.  

A second of the game nearly came after a wonderful piece of football involving Ighalo and Abdi, with the latter putting through Deeney, who saw his strike deflected wide by Verl keeper Sebastian Lange. 

Eventually the Hornets did double their lead through Ighalo, who also doubled his own personal tally for the game. The Nigerian was on-hand to tap home after Capoue had cut in from the byline and delivered a pin-point cross past Lange. 

There wasn't much time to catch breath before the visitors netted a third of the game, via a well-struck half-volley from Anya that left the keeper helpless. 

With a heavy downpour greeting the teams as they came back out after the break, the Hornets made three changes to freshen things up, including Jose Holebas, who came on for his second outing in a Watford shirt. 

A fourth goal for the visitors after the interval was thwarted by an excellent reflex save by Lange in the Verl goal, denying a Deeney header superbly from point-blank range. 

With just under half-an-hour to go, the home side managed to get themselves on the scoresheet. Anya was adjudged to have stopped Jonas Erwig-Druppel’s volley with his arm, and Al Ghaddioui stepped up to finish into the top left of Giedrius Arlauskis’ goal. 

The moment of the match was to follow when substitute Dyer dribbled from inside his own half, past numerous defenders before audaciously attempting to chip Lange. The effort was executed to perfection by the winger as it found the back of the net, and that sealed what was a comprehensive display from the Hornets.

HORNETS (First-Half): Gomes (GK); Hoban, Prodl, Cathcart, Pudil; Watson, Capoue; Anya, Ighalo, Abdi; Deeney (c).

HORNETS (Second-Half): Arlauskis (GK); Anya (Lewis, 65), Prodl (Angella, 57), Cathcart, Holebas; Watson (Murray, 74), Capoue; Abdi (Fabbrini, 63), Ighalo (Vydra, 57), Dyer; Deeney (c) (Byers, 81). 

HORNETS SUBS NOT USED: Gilmartin (GK), Belkalem, Johnson, Young, Doherty, Martin, Behrami, Jakubiak.

SC VERL (First-Half): Lange (GK); Grosseschallau, Stockner, Schmidt (c), Kaminski; Mikic, Schroder, Hecker, Erwig-Druppel; Haeder, Al Ghaddioui.

SC VERL (Second-Half): Lange (GK); Unzola, Stockner, Schmidt (c), Mikic; Gieseler, Erwig-Druppel, Hecker, Grosseschalan; Haeder, Al Ghaddioui.

First Team 07/07/2015

Prödl | “Excited To Be Part Of This Team”

SEBASTIAN PRODL describes his switch from Werder Bremen to Premier League newcomers Watford as a dream come true.

The 28-year-old defender called time on a seven-year spell with the German Bundesliga outfit last month, signing a five-year deal to join up with the Hornets.

“The decision to leave Werder Bremen was hard, but the decision to come to the Premier League and to come to Watford was very easy,” Prodl told watfordfc.com

“I have dreamed about getting a contract in the Premier League and in the summer I got the opportunity to come to Watford, so it was easy for me to decide.

“I met Mr Pozzo and I was impressed with his ideas, so I became interested in trying to make a contract with Watford. I had a good feeling about the people here, and I think it’s a good choice to come here.

“I’m very excited to be part of this team and part of the Premier League, and I’m very much looking forward to the big challenge.”

A former team-mate of Per Mertesacker’s, Prodl says he spoke to the Arsenal and Germany defender before and after completing his move to Watford.

“When I first signed here I met Per in London and he gave me some good recommendations about the area, because their training ground is nearby,” admitted Prodl, who earned his 50th cap for the Austrian national team last month.

“He also gave me a good feeling about coming to the Premier League. He knows me as a player and as a human, so he recommended that I come and I’m very excited about it.”

Prodl played 174 times for German top-flight side Werder Bremen, including outings in the Champions League and Europa League – losing to Shakhtar Donetsk in the 2009 final of the latter competition.

But the former Sturm Graz centre-half reckons playing in the Premier League will top each of those experiences.

“I know that the German league is a very good league and one of the best in the world, but I don’t think you can compare it with the Premier League,” he said.

“The passion for the football here, the passion of the fans, the stadiums, and the big clubs you’re going to play against, there’s nothing better in the world. I’m very excited to get this experience.

“I hope I can play a very good part for the team. Watford got promoted last year and the first season’s always difficult, but never underestimate the underdogs because we’re looking forward to staying with the team in the Premier League.”