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Winners and Losers from Real Madrid's International Champions Cup Campaign

Samuel MarsdenFeatured ColumnistAugust 5, 2014

Winners and Losers from Real Madrid's International Champions Cup Campaign

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    Manchester United lifted their first piece of silverware of the Louis van Gaal era with a 3-1 win against Liverpool in the International Champions Cup final on Monday evening.

    Along the way, they beat Real Madrid by the same scoreline.

    Given that Los Blancos had failed to beat Inter Milan and Roma in their first two matches of the tournament, it was perhaps not as surprising as it could have been that they succumbed to United.

    Now back in the Spanish capital, Carlo Ancelotti and his team can begin to prepare for the UEFA Super Cup against Sevilla in Cardiff.

    In the meantime, here are the winners and the losers from their International Champions Cup campaign.

Winner: Gareth Bale

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    Tony Ding/Associated Press

    Spanish language publication AS describe Gareth Bale as the only light in [Real Madrid's] tour to America and, to a certain extent, it is difficult to disagree with them.

    The Welsh forward missed pre-season last year—partly through injury and partly because of the transfer saga that engulfed the football world—and he is determined to make sure he starts his second Bernabeu season in fine form.

    His performances in the International Champions Cup suggest he's heading in the right direction.

    Bale scored Madrid's only two goals of the tournament; the first, coming against Inter Milan, was an impressive smash from around 30 yards.

    He also won and converted a penalty in the defeat to Manchester United.

Winner: Academy Players

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    Ben Margot/Associated Press

    With Real Madrid's players returning to training at various dates due to the disruption of the World Cup, Ancelotti seized the chance to integrate some of the club's younger players into the first team in America.

    In the first match against Inter, Alvaro Medran, Lucas and Raul de Tomas were all handed starts, gaining experience playing alongside the likes of Pepe and Gareth Bale.

    Later in the same game, Omar Mascarell, Derik Osede, Sobrino and Marcos Llorente were also used.

    Against Roma and Manchester United, with more first-team players having returned to training since the Inter friendly, the youngsters received less minutes, but Ancelotti will hope they all benefit from their trip to the States.

    Sticking with the young theme, there were also plenty of minutes for Isco and Asier Illarramendi—last summer's new toys.

    The pair will need to impress their Italian boss if they want to keep racking up minutes this season after the arrivals of Toni Kroos and James Rodriguez from Bayern Munich and Monaco respectively.

Winner: Publicity

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    USA TODAY Sports

    An interview with Charlie Stilliano on Marca, the president of Relevans Sport, the company who ran Madrid's tour to America, revealed that a lot of money is generated from having the European champions involved in the International Champions Cup.

    And while Madrid may not see a great deal of that directly, it doesn't hurt to increase their fanbase in the States.

    There were 109,000 people packed into The Big House in Michigan to watch Los Blancos lose to Manchester United, and you have to imagine that a certain amount of those—plus others who saw the games on television—will become fans of Madrid for years to come, buying merchandise and increasing the club's standing in the USA.

    La Liga president Javier Tebas, as per The Telegraph's Mark Ogden, has said he wants the Spanish league to exploit the Latin American support and rival the English league in the States.

    To do that, he's going to have to rely on his apex predators—Madrid and Barcelona—to help him along the way.

Winner: America

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Wherever Real Madrid play, it is a big deal, so to have the best football teams on show in America can only improve the chances of the sport growing there, and Real Madrid are often touted as the very best.

    Their involvement—and therefore that of some of their superstars—in the International Champions Cup should serve as a huge boost for what is still, in comparison to the country's big sports, a minority sport in the States.

    And as Stilliano said in his interview with Marca, it is important that these little steps take place if the sport is going to grow.

    On top of that, there are also plenty of Madrid fans in America.

    That they have had the opportunity to watch Los Blancos in a range of venues—they played in Berkeley, Dallas and Michigan during the friendly tournament—is good for everyone involved.

Loser: Preparation

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    Denis Doyle/Getty Images

    Despite playing three friendlies against three of Europe's traditionally bigger clubs, Inter Milan, Roma and Manchester United, this didn't feel like ideal preparation for Real Madrid's new season.

    And that's not just because they failed to register a win in the International Champions Cup.

    The World Cup meant they left Spain with half a squad, and while players did gradually join them along the way, Ancelotti never had the chance to integrate his new signings, Toni Kroos and James Rodriguez, into the side.

    Even Cristiano Ronaldo, who perhaps needs more of a rest than he is willing to admit, flew across to America for a mere 20-minute cameo against his former club, United.

    Now, Madrid must turn their attention toward the UEFA Super Cup and the Spanish Supercopa—with a friendly against Fiorentina sandwiched in the middle—where they will be forced to bed in their new players ahead of the new campaign.

    It hasn’t felt, so far, like the ideal preparation for the start of a season.

Loser: Diego Lopez

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    Diego Lopez's short spell with Real Madrid looks like it may have ended in America.

    Signed by Jose Mourinho when Iker Casillas got injured in January 2013, the former Villarreal and Sevilla stopper has been a near ever-present for the club in La Liga.

    In the USA, Lopez started the first game against Inter, was introduced as a substitute against Roma and was not required in the final match against Manchester United, when Casillas was handed 90 minutes.

    Meanwhile, Madrid were finalising a deal for Levante stopper Keylor Navas, and it seems Lopez will be sacrificed for the Costa Rican.

    Carmen Colino of Spanish paper AS suggests the 32-year-old has already agreed a deal with Monaco.

Loser: Cristiano Ronaldo

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    A little honesty at this stage of his career from Ronaldo wouldn't go amiss.

    It's understandable that he was desperate to be involved against Manchester United, but while there don't seem to be any repercussions from his brief cameo, perhaps he needs to give himself a breather.

    Ancelotti, as per Ian Ladyman of the Daily Mail, had claimed the Portuguese international wouldn't play in the game.

    However, Ronaldo muscled his way onto the pitch late in the second half, determined to prove himself ahead of August's European and Spanish Super Cups.

    He's struggled with injuries during recent months, though, and anything serious could affect him long term as he trickles toward 30 years of age.

    An extended break, rather than the States, may have suited him better in July.

Loser: Marca

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    Rick Osentoski/Associated Press

    Once upon a time, Marca, it may have been easy to doctor photos and get away with it—not in 2014.

    The notoriously pro-Real Madrid newspaper took the debatable action of photoshopping a picture of the packed Big House in Michigan—where 109,000 people crowded in to watch Los Blancos play Manchester United—to make it look like there were more white shirts in the ground than there actually were.

    Of course, in a world of social media and eagle eyes, they were never going to get away with it.

    In fact, within minutes of them publishing the edited photo, they were getting mocked from all four corners of the globe on Twitter.

    Next time, they probably shouldn't bother.

    Here is the full story from Bleacher Report.

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