11 August 2012
Real Madrid ends its US tour with another victory. The Whites have played four matches on American soil and have garnered a host of victories against rivals of various levels. Their time in this country has proved very beneficial and the team leaves with some great impressions. In terms of their preparation, they have achieved their goal of working steadily on their fine tuning and in terms of their brand, Real Madrid continues to grow stronger year after year.
Mourinho used the match against Celtic to continue experimenting. This time Kaká formed part of the starting eleven. The match's unusual kick-off time meant that it was played under tough climatic conditions with high temperatures and suffocating humidity. But there was no alternative. They faced an historic rival, the Scottish Celts, who over the years have continued developing typical British football with intense pressure, verticality and balls in the area. Unlike in their match against Milan, the Whites didn't go on as charged up, but their seriousness and focus was enough for them to dominate the Scotts. In the 16th Ronaldo tried his luck from outside the area but his shot went just a little wide. Little by little Real Madrid got into the game and in the 18th Kaká almost scored the first goal, but his shot from inside the area was cleared by Zaluska.
In the 21st Callejón, top goal-scorer of the Whites' pre-season with five goals, was going to make it 1-0. Higuaín positioned himself before the Scottish goal, the academy player received the ball and with great cunning he lifted it and pushed it into goal. Cristiano Ronaldo almost scored their second goal in the 31st but Zaluska kicked his shot clear. For their part, Celtic never created any clear danger. None at all. Zero offense. It wasn't a fast-paced game and both Madrid and Celtic seemed happy with their performances on the pitch going into half-time.
The second half started off with three changes in the line-up. Casillas, Benzema and Granero came on for Adán, Khedira and Kaká. In addition, Mourinho took the opportunity to introduce a tactical change and began playing with two strikers. The match continued moving along the same lines. Real Madrid maintained control and Celtic tried to lock down their goal. The Scotts, alerted by the goal-fest against Milan, didn't want to go through the same even though it was a friendly and they took all the defensive precautions possible. The simply forgot about attacking.
In the 52nd Benzema almost made it 2-0 after a great move by Ronaldo but he just missed finishing off the Portuguese player's fantastic shot. In the 57th Ramos, Ronaldo, Arbeloa, Callejón and Alonso went off for Özil, Nacho, Varane, Lass and Di María. In the 65th Coentrão was about to score the second goal but his shot from inside the area was cleared by a defender, provoking a corner. Real Madrid continued creating opportunities at the Celtic goal. In the 67th Benzema was about to score the goal that would decide the match. Özil played a great through ball to the French player who collected it in the area and slipped his shot into goal. 2-0 to Real Madrid. The French player debuted this pre-season as a Whites scorer.
With the win assured, Mourinho took off Higuaín and Coentrão and put on Morata and Sahin in the 70th. The big scare of the match took place in the 72nd. McGeough fell flat after a collision with Sahin. There were several anxious moments but, fortunately, the Scottish player started moving, although he had to be taken off in a stretcher after being attended on the turf for five minutes. The scare over the Scottish player cooled the match down further and the final minutes were just a technicality for both teams. That said, Di María almost made it 3-0 to Madrid in the 83rd but his shot went just a little wide when he sought out the Glaswegians goal. Two minutes later he tried it with a rabona but Zaluska cleared the ball. The Whites played a serious and solid game and took away their fouth and final victory of the US tour. Mourinho's team return to Madrid with their homework done, ready for the beginning of the official competition on Sunday 19 against Valencia in the Bernabéu. The best is on its way.