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Recap & Highlights: Real Madrid Femenino 3-0 Sparta Praha; KAIF Trophy

Marta Cardona, Kenti Robles, and Rocío Gálvez put the game away in the first half.

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Real Madrid Femenino kicked off their preparations for the 2021/22 campaign in fantastic fashion, beating Sparta Praha 3-0 in the KAIF Trophy preseason tournament.

Las Blancas lined up in a 4-4-2 diamond.

As Kosovare Asllani was unavailable due to Olympics action, Teresa Abelleira started as the #10 ahead of LCM Claudia Zornoza, RCM Aurélie Kaci, and DM Maite Oroz. Marta Cardona played up top with Nahikari García.

Despite missing the first several minutes of the game because Real Madrid TV decided to make it as hard as possible to catch this one (didn’t work with VPN either), there was more than enough football left to enjoy once I found a stream (thanks Daniel).

Zornoza looked like she had been playing with her midfield partners for years, zipping passes through short triangles to work her team around pressure and progress into the final third.

The high-tempo distribution and switching of play regularly opened holes in Sparta’s defensive structure, allowing Cardona to drop and receive. She looked remarkably well-adjusted to her second striker duties, making great movements and taking care to stay narrow. It wasn’t until that 3-1 win over Athletic Bilbao late last season where Cardona looked like she was figuring out her secondary position, so it was remarkable to see her excel in the tactical side of her role within such a short period of time.

There were still kinks with her receptions back-to-goal (not shielding the ball as well; balance a little off; not able to consistently pivot on the half-turn), but that is generally the hardest shift a winger has to make when operating as a forward.

Everyone else was great as well and it wasn’t too long before Madrid scored the opener.

Of course, it had to be Cardona.

Madrid dominated proceedings with a high press and looked surprisingly fit and energetic for a preseason outing. It was this defensive intensity that allowed Teresa to slip in Kenti Robles for the second goal of the game.

Rocío Gálvez made it 3-0 on the brink of half-time to secure the victory and allowed for early rotations in the second period of play.

Esther González and Lucía Rodríguez came on for Nahikari and Kenti, respectively, as the first subs of the game. Both looked bright and became involved in proceedings immediately.

A triple change soon followed: Athenea del Castillo, Lorena Navarro, and Marta Corredera for Cardona, Kaci, and Zornoza. The formation flipped to a 4-2-3-1, with Corredera as a left-winger and Athenea on the right.

It didn’t take any time at all for the latter individual to put on a show.

Aznar’s second-to-last sub was captain Ivana Andrés for Olga Carmona, briefly placing Babett Peter out wide. The final change of Maria García, also known as Pichi, (a Real Madrid B player signed from Madrid CFF B) for Rocío put Babs back at CB, Corredera at LB, and Lucía at RW, with Pichi at RB.

Las Blancas closed out the game with this XI and now has to prepare for a second preseason game vs. Wacker Innsbruck (Celtic Glasgow are out of the tournament due to COVID) tomorrow (Friday) at 19:30 local time (1:30 pm EST).

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