Real Madrid’s pre-season didn’t get off to the most convincing of starts, as they narrowly lost on penalties to Inter Milan in the Guinness International Champions Cup.
There are very few opportunities for some of Real Madrid’s younger players to step into the boots of the more familiar faces. But Madrid’s pre-season friendly against Inter Milan gave some of the Castilla players the opportunity to impress Carlo Ancelotti, and they took it with both hands.
Without Ronaldo or any of the new Galacticos, Gareth Bale was the star attraction in the Real side, and he didn’t let the 60,000 strong crowd down.
Bale, one of the most senior players almost put Real into the lead with a early header which beat Handanovic but cannoned off the crossbar.
But the Welshman wasn’t to be denied, as he scored a screamer just 10 minutes into the match. He remained unopposed as he picked up the ball on the half-way line, drove through the heart of Milan’s midfield and hit swerving shot from 30 yards which flew past Handanovic.
Real Madrid looked good value for their lead. The younger players seemed to slip seamlessly into the Madrid set-up. They were most certainly schooled in the Real Madrid way, playing incisive attacking football.
Inter begin to dominate
But as Bale, Pepe and Diego Lopez made for the bench after 45 minutes, Inter’s influence in the game grew as they began to dominate proceedings.
Inter were finally given a clear-cut chance to level the match, after Sabrino conceded a penalty as he clumsily barged into Nemanja Vidic.
Icardi, who remained largely anonymous throughout the match stepped up and scored with a cool ‘panenka’ penalty.
For what was supposed to be a pre-season run out, things got pretty tetchy, with a few unnecessary tackles flying in.
Neither side could be separated on the 90-minute mark, meaning the match went straight to penalties, where after Asier Illarramendi and Omar Mascarell missed crucial spot kicks, Icardi once again stepped up to do the business for Inter.
Ancelotti will be pleased
Regardless of the result – one point for losing a penalty shootout – Ancelotti will be pleased with the sharpness of his young charges, even if they lacked in stamina towards the end of the match.
But the match was also a test for some of the more senior players – even if they’re only 22. Isco’s future has been cast under much doubt with the arrival of James Rodriguez, and the young Spaniard must once again play himself into Ancelotti’s first team plans. He showed a good range of passing, but missed during the penalty shootout.
Diego Lopez may also have something to prove as the 31-year-old will face added competition from Keylor Navas, who looks set to join the club and Iker Casillas. In the end, it was reserve keeper Jesus Fernandez who put in the best performance, keeping Inter at bay during their second half resurgence.
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