Real Madrid's academy shines in Santa Clara

Curiously, Real Madrid's best lost the first half against a Manchester United side full of second-stringers... and after the break it was reversed as the back up for Madrid (or less than that, as most were not even first teamers) beat the United starters. And let's be clear, both of those 'half' victories were deserved. In the first 45 minutes, Madrid had flashes of brilliance, but could generally be accused of lacking some rhythm. For United it was their fourth pre-season game, for Madrid, their first. That was evident. The English side pressed more and were rewarded very close to the break, after great play from Martial, who pulled the Madrid defense apart.

Casemiro sticks away the penalty to draw Real Madrid level with Manchester United.

Madrid's impressive youth

So, upon seeing the line-ups after the break, a Madrid XI full of debutants, with Casemiro as captain, and United with virtually the best they have, you feared the worst. Well, no. The kids mixed it up well. The central defence of Tejero and Manu Hernando impressed; pleasing too were the commmanding Óscar and Quezada; as was Achraf, who pushed forward very well; and Franchu who was constantly active... Only the striker, Dani Gómez, was somewhat quieter. And, although not an academy player, but debutante nonetheless, Theo Hernández looked good, and was the one who created the penalty that levelled the game with a tremendous burst. Lindelof misjudged his incredible turn of pace and took him out.

David De Gea saves again for United.

Penalty disappointment tinged with good feelings

As it was then, Madrid's youth shone and brought the game level taking us to penalties. This tournament has introduced an American novelty that I have no time for: three points for a win, nothing for a loss and when there is a draw, two points for whoever wins the penalty shootout and one for the loser. The extra point was won by United, by a wretched two goals to one. De Gea saved two, Theo skied his over the crossbar and Casemiro, who had converted his real penalty during the game with such aplomb, crashed his off the bar. United also failed to score several, but not as many. A little disappointment, one point less, but the performance of the youngsters has left a good taste in the mouth.