Late Club América Equalizer Denies Real Madrid Its First Preseason Victory
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Real Madrid and Club América faced off for the fifth time in their history in yet another friendly match played in the United States this summer. Like in 2010, both teams gave us an entertaining match in the city of San Francisco, which, as a result of their recent performances, served as a game where they could bounce back from last weekend's losses.
The Merengues showed signs of improvement in comparison to their friendly against FC Barcelona, whilst Club América showed — once again — that they can hang with Europe’s elite.
América Real Madrid Starting XIs
Carlo Ancelotti, while rotating the defense and goalkeeper, decided to play the prime midfield trio after playing Aurélien Tchouaméni, Federico Valverde and Eduardo Camavinga against Barcelona last Saturday. Karim Benzema, who missed out on El Clásico due to fitness, started the game in hopes of gradually returning to shape for Madrid’s UEFA Super Cup clash against Eintracht Frankfurt in two weeks.
— Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadrid) July 27, 2022
Fernando Ortiz, as foreseen, rotated the whole América squad in comparison the men who started in their 2-0 Liga MX loss to Tijuana last weekend. Tano surprised us by starting both Henry Martín and Federico Viñas in a 4-4-2 formation, something he had not tried previously, and leaving Alvaro Fidalgo — former Real Madrid player — out of the starting XI.
13 | @yosoy8a ©️
3 | Jorge Sánchez
4 | @Seba4Caceres
5 | Pedro Aquino
6 | @jona2santos
17 | @AlexZendejas8
19 | @Miguel_layun
21 | @HenryMartinM
23 | @Laracont1Emilio
24 | @federicovinas98
206 | Mauricio Reyes pic.twitter.com/briAdXaMI7
— Club América (@ClubAmerica) July 27, 2022
Where are these performances in the league, América!?
The game began with América playing a high line, pressing Real Madrid out the back and into committing mistakes. In effect, the first 15 minutes of the game were those of utter control from Las Águilas, minutes where they managed to score the first goal of the game.
In the fifth minute, a one-two play between Miguel Layún and Viñas, followed by a shot from the Mexican fullback, left Henry Martín a ball that was impossible to miss.
Fun fact: Henry Martín has more goals against Manchester United, Manchester City and Real Madrid (3) than in Liga MX Liguillas (2).
Henry Martín Out Of Context pic.twitter.com/809DehMcUQ— Jesús (@JJBE27) July 27, 2022
Just take him already, Florentino Pérez.
When Los Blancos seemed lost on the pitch, a classic combination play at the edge of the box saw Benzema score a beautiful curler past Guillermo Ochoa to tie the game.
Sounds familiar, doesn't it?
After an interesting rest of the first half, Ancelotti opted for an almost completely different XI to start the last 45 minutes.
In the 55th minute, a foul in the box on Lucas Vázquez set up Eden Hazard to score his first goal for Real Madrid since January.
After the goal and the substitutions made from both sides, the Whites took over the game and the possession of the ball, forcing saves from Óscar Jiménez in more than one occasion.
Though, like the merengues in the first half when the game was skewed in favor of their opponents, a quick play at the edge of the 18-yard box from Fidalgo earned América a penalty that the Spaniard would take upon himself score (in two attempts).
Lunin got off his line so much he could've kissed Fidalgo's forehead.
Impressions of the game
Overall, this game left us with quite a lot on which to reflect.
For one, Real Madrid cannot count on just Benzema at the striker position for the rest of the season. While he’s coming off the best season of his life, the 34-year-old isn’t getting any younger, and with the campaign schedule getting tougher ahead of the World Cup in November and December, Florentino Pérez needs to find someone to bag the goals when the Frenchman isn’t there (or needs rest). It's also important to note that Vinícius Tobias — who will most likely back up Dani Carvajal throughout the season — debuted as Real Madrid player.
An analysis of this Madrid side would be too early to come up with considering this is its second game in the preseason. Though, with the UEFA Super Cup and LaLiga around the corner, Ancelotti might have to speed up its transition of coming to regular season form.
On the other hand, América showed it can, in fact, play soccer.
After a horrible performance in Tijuana, the azulcremas responded with a class performance against the 2022 Champions League winners. The Mexican club had moments where it dominated the legendary Madrid midfield trio with quick transitions from Jonathan dos Santos and Pedro Aquino with Alejandro Zendejas (and Alvaro Fidalgo, who came off the bench) bouncing off the wing and into the middle to link with either striker up top and build up plays from the defensive line with Jorge Sánchez and Mauricio Reyes — stints of the game they can potentially take into their league campaign.
These friendly games also served as a chance for youngsters like Emilio Lara (20) and Mauricio Reyes (20) to showcase themselves and contest for a spot in the regular season, and what a way to do it against the world’s best.
Can we watch friendlies every week from now on?