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A beneficial loss as a strong Real Madrid intended to win against former manager


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Real Madrid beat Chelsea 3-1 for the International Champions Cup on Wednesday in Miami and while a loss is never good, there might be a lot of positives that Chelsea and their manager José Mourinho can take from the match against the team he coached until three months ago.

Anyone who has followed the Spanish side during the Portuguese’s tenure in Madrid could see a lot of his legacy in the friendly. Even though new manager Carlo Ancelotti is slowly making what he sees as necessary changes, they were still tame and shy. Fast paced counter-attack oriented, while keeping control of the actions in the match, the team from Madrid brought their first squad to face a mixed Chelsea side.

In the press conference after the victory over AC Milan, Mourinho had already hinted he would continue to use his pre-season strategy so far: having his best players split in two teams, one for each half. But the manager didn’t have all of his players to start with. While Frank Lampard played his first match in this pre-season, both Juan Mata and David Luiz picked up minor injuries and stayed back in Washington DC instead of travelling with the team to Florida.

Real Madrid, rated among the best four teams in Europe last season, would present a daunting challenge to any opposition. And when the line-ups came out, it was clear that José Mourinho stayed true to his word. Names like Victor Moses and Kevin de Bruyne – two of the players with the best performances in the pre-season – were on the bench. It’s not clear yet what will be Mourinho’s first team, but the 4-3-3 formation used last night will hardly been seen during the regular season – saved for injuries.

The madridistas started the game on the attack and for the first ten minutes they didn’t allow Chelsea to react. Some players like Marco van Ginkel – who was on his first match for Chelsea against such an intimidating side – were nervous at first and couldn’t find their best football. But things slowly settled down and the Londoners, little by little, found their way into the match.

In the fourth minute, Ronaldo showed all his skills trying to dribble past blue defender Branislav Ivanovic, but the Serbian stopped the forward’s efforts as he shrugged the Portuguese off with ease. Nearly ten minutes later, the Portuguese tried to infiltrate again and fired one of his screamers, only to find Ivanovic foiling his plans again, this time by blocking the ball with his body. But as Real Madrid restarted the play with Sergio Ramos, Marcelo received the ball from Luka Modric and dribbling towards’ Chelsea’s box, he shot into the bottom corner, out of the reach to Petr Cech, making it 1-0 to the Spaniards.

Los Blancos barely had time to celebrate though. Two minutes later Romelu Lukaku fought for the ball in the midfield, passing it to Ramires who ran past three of Madrid’s defenders before finishing with a delicate chip over Iker Casillas. The match after that were even for a few minutes, not only in the score line but in the actions as well. There were two doubtful calls from the referee as Chelsea’s players were taken down inside Madrid’s box. The first incident in particular was with Oscar as he was sent tumbling down by Ramos but the referee decided against giving the penalty. Chelsea players and fans think their player was fouled inside the opponent’s penalty area, but they got nothing out of it.

Real Madrid had yet another chance with a screamer by Modric that crossed the box ahead of Cech, but it went wide. At the 30 minute mark though, Cristiano had a free kick to take – the second at the night – but this time he did better than the first, and the speed and force were too much for Cech to handle, although the goalkeeper was really close to saving it. The Portuguese didn’t lose the opportunity to point his hands to himself while looking towards Chelsea’s bench to show Mourinho that he – Ronaldo – is the real deal.

At the start of second half, Chelsea brought Fernando Torres, Victor Moses, and Kevin de Bruyne as Lukaku, Oscar and Lampard marched off. It changed a little bit the match’s dynamics, and Eden Hazard had a clear chance a few feet away from Casillas inside their box, but the goalkeeper closed the angle and cleared it, while the Belgian lamented the wasted chance. But it was Madrid once again that turned an attempt into a goal, and after running into the middle of Chelsea’s defence Cristiano Ronaldo, unmarked, finished with a header following Isco’s cross from the left. 3-1 Madrid.

It seemed like the game was done and dusted despite the game was only played for 57 minutes then. Ancelotti’s side still kept their best players, only improving it with di María coming for Benzema as Madrid took control of the actions and controlled the match until the final whistle.

Although it was a convincing win for the Spanish side it was also the real test José Mourinho needed in order to know where his team’s weaknesses and strengths lie. Ten days before his returning debut in the Premier League, the manager is aware there’s work to do, and facing such a challenging opponent made it clear where they could improve. But the good news is that the squad is talented and young and the answers might mostly be already at Stamford Bridge.

The last game in the club’s pre-season will take place this Saturday, against AS Roma before the team travels back to London to prepare to their debut against Hull City on August 18. Mata and Luiz are still doubtful of joining the friendly against the Italians, but their injuries aren’t serious and they’re expected to play against Hull if there’s no further development.

On a final positive note for the blue fans, Chelsea remain unbeaten against Real Madrid in official matches.

Match facts

Chelsea: Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry (Azpilicueta 73), Cole; Ramires (Essien 73), Van Ginkel (Schürrle 73), Lampard (de Bruyne 46); Oscar (Moses 46), Lukaku (Torres 46), Hazard.

Goal: Ramires 16

Booked: Lampard 36, Cahill 58.

Real Madrid: Casillas; Arbeloa, Ramos, Pepe, Marcelo (Nacho 73); Modric (Casemiro 73), Khedira, Isco (Morata 84), Özil, Ronaldo; Benzema (di María 69).

Goals: Marcelo 13, Ronaldo 31, 56.

Booked: Arbeloa 42

Man of the match: Cristiano Ronaldo

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Nice report.

First of all I think it was a nice way to get fit for our players, its just a preseason and Jose needed a tough one like this to really know the flaws of our players and team as a whole. I don't think he'll ignore the flaws of our team just because its a friendly.

We played well in the begining of the 2nd half till ivanovic let isco about 5 mins to pic out a cross to ronaldo. When KDB was moved back into the pivot and MvG was taken off, it became a disaster show lol.

But the flaws that we need to work on were too obvious,
1. we looked terrible with possesion. This didn't bother me too much because mata didn't play. He is the god of our possesion play. But what if he doesn't play because of a knock.
2. We were not good enough pressing madrid. We need to put pressure on bigger teams and stop being too respectful, if not for numerous tackles and interceptions from MVG we would have been even more dominated.
3. Hazard was not interested in the first half of the match, I like the spirit he brought in the begining of the 2nd half. But he needs a proper schooling from ramires on how to finish one on ones with the keeper. This is his second one on one miss this preseason.
4. The defence were not good enough, but I blame this on the overall pressing of the ball. Cahill needs to stop backing off players. This is how adebayor scored us last season the same backing off from him, he should watch how MVG and cole tackles the ball from people.
5. Torres has even better runs and link up play than lukaku. I know its just preseason but, which other chances does lukaku have to dispace torres from starting against the first 2 premier league teams.
6. KDB in the pivot was a failed test. Madrid ran over us like a steam roller when he was put there to replace MVG. He should stay higher up the pitch against big teams, we missed his incisive passing because of this.
7. I think peter cech should train on his kicks better, he almost never finds a chelsea player even though we had someone as big as lukaku upfront in there. There were some times he could pass to one of the full backs but once the two CBs are marked, the possesion is lost to madrid.

Positives that we could build on
1. Essiens long passing was impressive, I want essien and MVG/ramires to play the pivot. In the pivot, One strong passer and one box to box tackler is needed to keep the balance between possesion and defending. Two of the same kind is not good enough in a way: if there are two B2B, we would be terrible in possession and if there are two slow passers, we would be too open in the defence.
2. MVG is exactly the kind of tackler I hoped to see but his attacking play is actually limited

All in all, these are a few things noticed from the last match which we can work on

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