James Rodriguez has spoken of the “good feeling” created by Everton’s pre-season trip to Florida as the Colombian targeted a successful camp to get the Blues in optimum condition for the new campaign.
Rafa Benitez’s squad are in Orlando preparing for the 2021 Florida Cup, where they will play Colombian giants Millonarios on Sunday (11pm BST, 6pm local time) before taking on Mexico’s Club Universidad Nacional – commonly known as Pumas – on Wednesday (11pm BST, 6pm local time).
James revealed Everton are focused on working hard during daily training sessions in the Florida heat and are relishing the challenge posed by two of Latin America’s most successful football clubs.
The 30-year-old forward, who moved to Merseyside from Real Madrid last summer, caught the eye with some sharp finishing on the first day of training on Thursday, and said he was looking forward to returning to competitive action this weekend
“It's a very good feeling because we are in a beautiful country to play against some important clubs,” James told evertonfc.com.
“We are here to prepare ourselves for the season ahead. We are taking both games very seriously.
“A great pre-season gives you the energy you need for the rest of the season. We are here for that reason. We are focused on our preparation every day so we can have a good year. Personally, I'm training hard so I'm ready for the challenges ahead.”
As one of Colombia’s greatest players, James knows all about Millonarios. The Bogota-based club produced a strong showing in Categoría Primera A last season, concluding with the team’s 25th finals appearance in Colombia's top league.
The two-time Champions League winner is excited at the chance to take on a team from his homeland and is hoping US Evertonians and Colombians can turn up in force at Camping World Stadium on Sunday.
“It's a great opportunity to play against my countrymen,” added James. “I hope the Colombians fans come to the stands to support us or the clubs they want to support.
“Millonarios have a great reputation in Colombia. It's a special feeling for me and we are taking this seriously. I'm really focused as I normally am in every match. Hopefully it's going to be a great game for the fans and I hope we can get the win.”