Wednesday’s International Champions Cup final between Chelsea and Real Madrid could have been a curious clash between two sides with new coaches, new players and new dreams for the season to come. It could have been an opportunity to poke about and see how both clubs were faring in their respective preparations for the upcoming European campaign.
All that was thrown straight out the window, of course, due to the involvement of a certain Jose Mourinho. This game was all about the soap opera-style drama with oodles of backstory, instead.
The current vibe in the Real Madrid world of club settling in with their new squeeze—a sensible, no-drama type that is perfect to introduce to the in-laws without fear of embarrassment. There are still pangs of regret for the old partner, though—a wild, passionate, untrainable type, and someone who refuses to ever settle down.
Mourinho’s comments, thoughts, words and implications directed toward Real Madrid are still pored over in the Spanish press like a fairground mystic staring at tea leaves. That was even before the Portuguese manager’s current and former clubs ended up meeting in Miami.
Tuts were issued over comments from Mourinho about the privilege of training the “true" Ronaldo, in reference to the Brazilian version who was at the Camp Nou at the same time as the Chelsea man. Madrid’s current Ronaldo responded by saying that he does not “spit on the plate from which I eat,” avoiding and failing quite impressively to get drawn into the affair.
Mourinho’s hard-set face stared out of the front cover of Wednesday’s edition of Marca. This time, the manager was the bad guy going into Madrid’s next game, rather than the coach repeatedly called the best in the modern game by sections of the club-friendly media.
This was a match that Real Madrid had to win, and in emphatic style to boot. The club and the supporters needed to show that they had moved on from the former tempestuous relationship. The team should have run onto the pitch with "I Will Survive" blasting over the stadium’s sound system.
It was a tricky clash for Mourinho, too. The Premier League manager was going to have a swift reunion with Iker Casillas, who was dropped to the bench in the last months of the manager’s final season with Madrid. It was the same situation with Pepe. And then there was Ronaldo, the player whom he had criticised, on leaving the Santiago Bernabeu, for thinking that he had nothing more to learn from the game of football.
Of course, the soap opera theme of the night led the way with Ronaldo responding to Mourinho’s various pokes and snubs with two goals in a furious performance for a match so early in August.
“I do my talking on the field,” growled the Madrid forward to the media after the game. "Things that happen off it do not affect me.” Casillas also had a bit of a blinder, pulling out some top-draw saves in the second half to thwart Chelsea in the 3-1 defeat for the English side.
The match took place in the early hours of the morning in Spain, so too early for the respective Madrid-based papers to respond. However, the reaction to the victory is easy to predict. It will be jubilant, triumphant and apparent proof positive that the club is better of shacking up with its latest partner. “Go on now, go...walk out the door. Just turn around now; you’re not welcome any more...”