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Immediate Reaction: Real Madrid 2-0 Manchester United

Quick recap from the pre-season friendly between Real Madrid and Manchester United

Real Madrid v Manchester United - Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

Real Madrid vs. Manchester United is a special fixture in the folklore of pre-season friendlies in the United States. The fanfare is huge, so huge that it once broke the attendance record in the nation. Tonight’s affair in Houston didn’t break such a record, but it was still a good chance for both teams to get into the groove for the big season ahead.

Both teams started with strong XIs.

Real Madrid - Lunin; Carvajal, Rüdiger, Alaba, F. Garcia; Tchouameni, Modric, Camavinga, Bellingham; Rodrygo, Vinicius.

Manchester United - Onana; Wan-Bissaka, Varane, Martinez, Shaw; Casemiro, Mainoo, Fernandes; Mount, Garnacho, Rashford.

Real Madrid started the game in a 4-2-2-2 formation, unlike the 4-4-2 diamond in the first game. Tchouameni and Camavinga started in a double pivot, with Bellingham and Modric in more advanced midfield roles. Madrid’s first-half pressing was better than what they did vs. Milan. The midfielders closed down space quickly to regain possession and to get out of pressing sequences.

Real Madrid started the game with longballs aimed at Vinicius, Rodrygo, and Bellingham and it took Los Blancos only five minutes to open the scoring with the aid of one. A longball from the deep found Bellingham on the edge of the box who opened his Real Madrid account with a cool chip over Onana.

Real Madrid dominated the half with crisp transition sequences. Some of the one-touch football from Cavainga, Bellingham, Fran Garcia, and Vinicius Jr was simply breathtaking. Vinicius came close to scoring twice in the first half as he missed an easy cutback from Carvajal on the right and Onana saved his shot from a tough angle later on.

United, on the other hand, were also targeting longballs in Carvajal’s defensive region as the Spaniard struggled to cope with Garnacho’s pace and movement. United infiltrated Madrid’s penalty area on numerous occasions but couldn’t find the net. Things got heated between Lisandro Martinez and Jude Bellingham near the end of the half as the Manchester United defender crashed into the Englishman with a cynical tackle. Lisandro was immediately booked.

Real Madrid brought in Lucas, Nacho, Militao, Mendy, Kroos, and Valverde right away in the second half. Brahim and Joselu entered the pitch at the hour mark. Nico Paz replaced Vinicius in the 70th minute.

The second half was mostly dominated by Manchester United, who brought in a cavalry of their own on the hour mark. The freshness of their squad from then on allowed them to spend more time on the ball. However, with some good defending and some luck going in Madrid’s favor, United were still unable to score.

Amidst this, Madrid came close to doubling their lead when Joselu connected with a great header, thanks to a good cross from Lucas. However, the angle was too acute for Joselu to score. Joselu had another chance from a transition when Brahim squared it for him at the end, but Onana denied the Spaniard.

The third time is the charm, they say — Joselu killed the game with the moment of the match, an audacious overhead kick in the 89th minute. A perfect cross from Lucas and a perfect connection from Joselu meant Onana had no chance.

Back-to-back wins in pre-season for Madrid.

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