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.