The fixture still looks like a curious one in comparison to the other clubs Real Madrid will be playing this summer. That list includes Paris Saint-Germain, Lyon and Inter Milan—considerably more saucier than an English Championship side. However, Carlo Ancelotti and his players took Sunday evening’s session by the seaside very seriously indeed and returned to Spain with a six-goal victory and an awful lot of relative positives.
Of course, a match against relative minnows after just a week’s training means that a disappointing result or performance can be written off by supporters as a blip that does not really mean anything. The same rule stands for a strong showing. After all, even if you challenged Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, Mesut Ozil, Sami Khedira and Luka Modric to a kickabout in a parking lot after an 18-hour hour buffet session, you’d expect to be pasted.
Nevertheless, there was special skip in the step of a team which had a strong lineup in the first half and then resorted to squad-filling bench warmers like Kaka and Gonzalo Higuain in the second. Carlo Ancelotti knows that, barring Cristiano Ronaldo on the left flank, there is huge competition for each spot in the current Real Madrid team. Despite this, the chirpy looking Portuguese poacher still grabbed the first two goals of the game.
Everyone else looked like they were fighting for their places. Isco will be challenging both Mesut Ozil in the No. 10 role and Angel di Maria for his right-sided slot, so it was no surprise that the newly-arrived playmaker put in a perky performance. The young Spaniard was the figure who won the praise on the front covers of both Marca and AS the morning after the friendly fixture. That is to be expected, though, with both papers looking to curry favour with the club on an expensive and still relatively inexperienced addition to the squad.
“In Isco they may have found a new commander as young as a new recruit, and in Cristiano, well, there was more of the same quality,” purred Luis Nieto in the match report for the English version of AS. “A fine place to start fine tuning ahead of the next season,” was the verdict of Delfin Melero writing in Marca, noting that “there was of course, a notable difference between one of Europe’s biggest teams and one recently promoted to the Championship.”
Fine-tuning is certainly the most apt description of Sunday evening’s match. The team will be moving up a few more gears in the weeks to come against more challenging opposition. However, Sunday night showed that Real Madrid’s engine had fired up well and was purring along nicely enough.