With all of the madness that has occurred within the football world over the past week, seeing Gareth Bale back in a Madrid shirt sporting the number 50 didn’t feel as unusual as one would predict. The Welshman entered a stronger line-up than the first pre-season trip to Scotland against Rangers. Six Castilla players were still called up to the bench with other senior players such as Karim Benzema yet to return. Martin Ødegaard, who has seen his name tossed around the rumour mill recently, found himself on the bench.
Pre-season games are notorious for being slow paced and dull, but the first half of this match up was actually quite chaotic. For a neutral viewer this made it a far better spectacle, but fans of these two sides would have been more concerned that neither side managed to string together more than a handful of passes without a mistake. New Milan goalkeeper Mike Maignan made a big blunder that was very close to being picked up by Luka Jović early on. The scrappy play made the game an end to end battle, but the friendly factor perhaps stagnated a lot of the end product. The best chances came through Milan who hit the post, and Isco who’s spin and shot brushed the outside of the net. Gareth Bale looked to surely open the scoring after he was sent clean through and took a good first touch into his path - but he was chopped down in the area by Davide Calabria. The iconic number 50 then stepped up to try and claim justice, but Maignan redeemed himself and made a low save to his left to keep it even at half time.
The second half brought much change, with six substitutes entering the action. The intensity of the game seemed to depart alongside the players that were switched out, and other than a great Andriy Lunin save to deny Brahim Díaz from distance - it was a really forgettable second period. The young Castilla players introduced played with heart and something to prove to Ancelotti, and there were some great spells in possession by all involved. That did not stop numerous pitch invaders providing the best bit of entertainment of the game. Sergio Arribas volleyed just over the target with minutes to go, but that would prove to be the last real chance at preventing a goalless score line. It finished 0-0, with Lunin providing the strongest takeaway. In terms of sharpness - with pre-season about to conclude - every player looked ready to progress into competitive football, with chance creation being the only unsatisfying factor. What did you think about the game?