Gareth Bale is Fine, Ankle Injury was an Unnecessary Worry
During Tuesday’s training session, Bale spent some time on the sidelines nursing his ankle. The injury was reported not to be severe but the major question loomed, will the Welshman feature in the MLS All-Star Game? Let alone, will he be able to be fit for the upcoming Super Cup game?
All worry was quickly squashed Wednesday night. Bale sat the entire first half of the friendly but eventually graced Solider Field in the second. He offered sharp cuts and direct runs during his limited time. He also added a penalty kick in the shootout.
It was All About the Youth
If the starting lineup taught us anything, it was that Zinedine Zidane wanted to play his youth. Only a few veterans such as Toni Kroos, Keylor Navas, Sergio Ramos and Isco played in the first half. Rising youth products such as Achraf Hakimi and Borja Mayoral were handed starting nods – and, boy, did they take advantage of it.
Hakimi played his role well. He dropped back and played supportive defense while not being afraid to join the attack and take on players. His smooth runs behind the defense led to multiple crossing chances and his give-and-goes with the central midfield resulted in a plethora of counter-attacks. The young Moroccan still has a lot to prove before getting consistent game time with Madrid but after his stellar performance against the MLS All-Stars, it is safe to assume that he’ll be one to watch in the future.
As for Mayoral, he didn’t have much to do in the first half hour. Madrid played mostly through their wide channels, offering any central attacks limited possession. However, Mayoral did his best to fire off a few shots, but they were mostly off target. It took him until the 59th minute to bag a goal, providing Madrid with their only lead of the night. Mayoral played well but didn’t do anything spectacular to improve his chances in the first team next season. However, fans must remember that this match was just a glorified friendly. Mayoral did win the MVP for the game.
A few other youth stars made an appearance in the match. Oscar Rodriguez, Luca Zidane, Alvaro Tejero, Jesus Vallejo and Ruben Yanez all played a part in the win. None of them did anything drastic but playing time is always huge for young players like themselves.
Sergio Ramos Knows How to Play in an All-Star Game
At the end of the day, this match was an All-Star game. Players and fans should lighten up and enjoy the game being played, and no one understood that as much as Sergio Ramos. He put an entertaining performance that was both professional and appealing. His sharp defense and effective communication were pertinent as usual but his desire to enjoy the match and join the attack was tremendous. Ramos took free kicks, dribbled past defenders and tried to chip Tim Howard. A perfect night from such a perfect man!
Lucas Vázquez May Need to Spend Time on Loan
I know, I know, hear me out. Vazquez has improved drastically over the past couple of years yet his personal production is meager. He constantly took on defenders and failed, his shots went wide and his crosses rarely reached anyone.
His issues could be that he wasn’t playing with his typical teammates but he didn’t provide anything desirable from the match. Perhaps some time away to help find personal growth may do him good. He won’t be able to have Ronaldo or Benzema always there to provide him with chances.