Alexis Sanchez Brilliant as Manchester United Beat Real Madrid in 2018 ICC

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistAugust 1, 2018

Real Madrid's Spanish defender Alvaro Odriozola (R) vies for the ball with Manchester United's Chilean foward Alexis Sanchez (L) during the International Champions Cup friendly football match at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Florida on July 31, 2018. (Photo by Gaston De Cardenas / AFP)        (Photo credit should read GASTON DE CARDENAS/AFP/Getty Images)

Real Madrid had a disappointing start to their 2018-19 campaign, suffering a 2-1 loss to Manchester United in the International Champions Cup.

Alexis Sanchez came through with a goal and an assist to help earn the win on Tuesday at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. Karim Benzema scored the only goal for Real Madrid in the loss.

After a loss and a win on penalties in their other two ICC matches, Manchester United were able to end the tournament on a high note.


Alexis Sanchez Looks Primed for a Bounce-Back Season for Manchester United

Last year was a disappointing one for Sanchez, who transferred from Arsenal to Manchester United midway through the year and had very little impact.

While the Premier League season still hasn't begun, the past few matches show the forward is set for a much bigger performance in 2018-19.

Alexis was outstanding from the start of the match, scoring the opening goal in the 18th minute with a strong finish in the box. In the 27th minute, he assisted Ander Herrera with an impressive header right to his team-mate.

International Champions Cup @IntChampionsCup

An excellent first half in Miami! @ManUtd lead 2-1 against @realmadrid! All to play for Tune into @espn 2 or @ESPNDeportes to watch the second half LIVE https://t.co/t5vLEJaJYj

This was all the scoring Manchester United needed to come away with the win over the reigning Champions League winners.

Those watching along had high hopes for Sanchez in the upcoming season:

Liam Canning @LiamPaulCanning

Feeling very confident that Alexis Sánchez is going to show his best for Manchester United this season. Looks sharp and fit. This pre-season has done him well. Big things to come.

Adam McKola @AdamMcKola

Alexis looks fresh and ready to go for the season. 👌🏽

He also scored a goal against AC Milan and was one of the few bright spots against Liverpool.

With Chile missing the World Cup, Alexis has been off for the summer, and he is taking advantage by getting a head start on the rest of his competition.

It has been difficult to evaluate Manchester United's attack with so many key players still not with the squad, such as Romelu Lukaku and Paul Pogba, but at least one player has shown he can be a reliable force once the real matches begin.


Real Madrid's Attack Will Struggle Without Cristiano Ronaldo

While neither squad had their full first team on the pitch, Real Madrid did have two of their best offensive players start the match in Gareth Bale and Benzema, neither of whom played in the World Cup. Isco, Toni Kroos and Marco Asensio also came on in the second half.

Against a Premier League squad that also didn't have their top players (and allowed four goals to Liverpool), this should have been enough for a better performance.

The Spanish club dominated possession, holding the ball for 71 percent of the match. However, there was still a lack of quality chances with only three shots going on the net.

Bale had only two attempts that were off-target, while many of the other shots were from distance. The good opportunities were badly missed by a variety of players who likely won't see much playing time this year.

There will be different looks when the full team is on the pitch, but there could be problems without someone like Ronaldo who can score from nearly anywhere and also draws a lot of attention from opposing defences.

There is no doubt Bale has this level of talent, with manager Julen Lopetegui saying he could "help fill the void" left by Ronaldo, per Phil McNulty of BBC Sport. However, he will need to be more aggressive in the final third than he has been to this point with Real Madrid.

Everyone else on the roster will also have to step up to keep this club at the same level we have seen in recent years.


What's Next?

Manchester United will have one more friendly before the Premier League season starts, taking on Bayern Munich on Sunday. Real Madrid will face Juventus on Saturday in the ICC, hoping to get even against the club that landed Ronaldo.