Real Madrid demolished a tired LA Galaxy side 4-1 at the Rose Bowl in Souther California, Saturday night. Los blancos dominated throughout the game, looking spry and excited to play their first "real" match after many weeks of training; on the other side of the pitch, the Galaxy looked tired and overmatched, and clearly had their head in their upcoming league fixture on Wednesday.
Madrid attacked fearlessly throughout the match, only pausing towards the end of the second half as their bodies began to tire; canteranos Callejón and Joselu scored for los merengues in the first half, while a couple of not-so-new faces, Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema wrapped up the scoring. LA's striker Cristman scored the honor goal towards the end of the match after a shot deflected to him in the box (after a great stop by Adán, who came on for Casillas at halftime).
So, what did we learn from this match?
Not tons: Mourinho didn't have to give us a clear structure on defense because LA rarely attacked, and when they did, the Madrid defenders were more than up to the task. But we did get some hints of how Madrid will approach some aspects of the game tactically, and we got a good show of what some of the lesser-known players can do, and where the bigger names might fit in to the final roster.
- In the pre-match commentary I asked, "Where in the world is Fabio Coentrão?" Well, he was everywhere. And he played phenomenally in each position--I saw him at LM, RM, CDM, and LB. What a debut from the Portuguese winger!
- Cantera report: Callejón looked great on the wing, and finished off his chance perfectly (to be fair, it was put on a platter for him by Kaká). Joselu scored on a little cut in from the left side, but had a lot of help from Beckham's leg on the deflection--still, he played really well up top. Adán was solid in goal: his save on the first shot of LA's eventual goal was quite spectacular, even if it deflected right to Cristman. In fact, the only underwhelming performance was from Jesé, the highly touted 18-year-old, who seemed out of place. He's been compared to CR7 and Messi because of his crazy footwork and balance, so let's hope he can pull it together next time.
- Raphaël Verane looked really solid in the back. He brought a good aerial presence (he's really tall, albeit a bit lanky--kind of like Derek Jeter circa 1995 or so), and he handled the ball easily, and made a couple of impressive tackles.
- Kaká was a monster in the first half. He was absolutely everywhere, generating almost all of Madrid's attacks, and combining with Coentrão whenever possible. He made a couple of long, loping runs with the ball stuck to his foot that seemed to turn back the clock, and his pass to Callejón was just magical. Great news for Madrid!
- All the habitual first-teamers came on in the second half--Özil, CR7, Alonso, Benzema...and they didn't disappoint. Cristiano scored a sick goal (see below), and Özil put Benzema (and other) through on goal 1-on-1 seemingly countless times. The young man can play. And Benzema was solid in attack, both feeding others and neatly putting away Coentrão's perfect cross to put an exclamation point on Madrid's victory.
We should temper our optimism somewhat, however, because Madrid was playing a depleted, tired LA team that really just looked happy to be there. It'll be much more interesting to see Madrid go up against an opponent that will really push the ball and force us to defend. For now, though, here's CR7's goal: