MLS All-Stars 0-1 Real Madrid: All-Star game match report
In Real Madrid's final preseason game before they take on Manchester United in the European Super Cup, they could not have had a more frustrating opening half against the MLS All-Stars.
They were dominating possession and chances created but were unable to take any of them. Kroos went close a couple of times and Lucas Vazquez had a very legitimate call for a penalty that the referee waved away. Theo Hernandez had chances to and was causing problems down the left along with Marco Asensio, who was denied by Tim Howard a couple of times with saves ranging from standard to the lower end of spectacular.
Lucas Vazquez and Isco were having a particularly strong impact on Real Madrid's attack but the same argument could be made for all four of Zidane's more advanced players including Sergio Ramos, who was taking the opportunity and Real Madrid's dominance to venture forward while Toni Kroos was also influentil moving forward.
They could not score in that first however and Zidane made three changes in the second half to try and get that illusive goal. Ramos, Kroos and Keylor Navas were replaced by Cabellos, Vallejo and Yáñez.
It eventually came just before the hour mark when Asensio played the ball to Ceballos and the new signing put Mayoral through with a lovely pass, showsing his vision and precision passing- Mayoral drove it home and Real Madrid were looking far stronger.
That was before MLS' All-Stars seemed to click into gear with twenty minutes to go. They had a number of chances with a Giovani strike after a lovely move involving a neat touch from Dom Dwyer to set him up, but he struck wide.
Bale was struggling to find any form in preseason, which isn't a huge deal, but he came on to prove a point in Chicago. He didn't score but he was everywhere and proved his worth as Asensio nips at his heels for a starting spot next Tuesday.
But the MLS were not done. Dom Dwyer headed home in the 87th minute to give the All-Stars a draw as we headed for penalties. Two misses for the MLS was enough for Real Madrid to take the lead and never give it up as Benzema, Kovacic, Bale and Marcelo scored their penalties for the winners.
Zidane won't be delighted with how wasteful Real Madrid were but won't be too concerned considering he got to see all, or most, of his squad in the final preseason game. It was a good game against competitive opposition and that is just as important during preseason. The stakes will be higher next week, however, and the opposition far more attuned to what is needed against Los Blancos.
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Real Madrid take on an MLS All-Star side in the final game of their US tour at Soldier Field in Chicago with Zinedine Zidane’s side looking to end an underwhelming pre-season with their first victory.
The reigning Liga and European champions have been suffering from something of a hangover after last season’s success and have not been firing in matches against Manchester United, Manchester City and Barcelona in the International Champions Cup.
Zidane’s side managed a draw against José Mourinho’s team in their inaugural game but were then demolished 4-1 by Pep Guardiola’s men in a game characterized by Real’s traditional Achilles heel, conceding from set-pieces. Sergio Ramos only made his return to action in the match against Barcelona and serious questions marks have been raised about the capacity of Raphael Varane and Jesús Vallejo to fill the void left by the combative Pepe.
Zidane’s strike force – in the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo – has also been misfiring with Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale both yet to find the net in pre-season. The Real boss has been leaning on youth in the US and the form of Marco Asensio and promising performances from some of the club’s youth teamers have provided the few moments of optimism in an otherwise bleak panorama so far.
With the European Supercup against Manchester United around the corner, Zidane will treat the MSL game as a dress rehearsal and will therefore play his strongest side and resists the temptation to make too many changes. That gives Bale and Benzema a final chance to find some rhythm with the former particularly playing for his place in the side in Skopje with Asensio giving Zidane multiple reasons to start the 21-year-old against Mourinho’s side in the Welshman’s place.
Although the MLS All-Stars side may be enjoying a day in the sun against lustrous opposition, Chicago Fire coach Veljko Paunovic will be out to prove a point about the strength of the US league and it should be noted that the All-Stars collective has lost only once since 2013, a 2-1 defeat by Arsenal last year and beat Bayern Munich in 2014 and Tottenham in 2015.
Nemanja Nikolic will fancy his chances on getting on the score sheet having plundered 16 goals in 20 games for Chicago Fire this season while Madrid will face a familiar foe in the shape of New York City’s David Villa, who has bagged 14 himself and would dearly like to add another against Madrid to his career tally.
The MLS side boasts experience in former Madrid midfielder Kaká and Bayern Munich stalwart Bastian Schweinsteiger, who moved to Chicago in March, while youngsers Miguel Almiron (Atlanta) and Kellyn Acosta (Dallas) will be looking to impress.