Roma won the first International Champions Cup game last
night, defeating Real Madrid 7-6 on penalties.
Despite the 80 thousand fans in attendance, it was so quiet
you could hear a pin drop. Unexpectedly, there was no active support for either
side, no chanting or passion for two well celebrated clubs in Melbourne.
It’s the classic sport story where the hype outweighs the
actual event itself. More noise could be heard at the open training session on Friday,
and after the match concluded with no goals, fans didn’t have much to cheer about.
Ironically, for a game that ended scoreless in normal time,
the first 30 minutes was played at a high intensity and filled with a flurry of
Roma came out looking dangerous, as Gervinho made his mark
on the left wing earning the Italians an early corner.
The corner ball was perfection, finding De Rossi whose shot
cannoned off the crossbar into the path of Totti, only to be denied by a clearance
off the line from Marcelo.
Fan favourite Cristiano Ronaldo looked dangerous at times,
but failed to generate a combination with Gareth Bale. Nothing seemed to be
working for Ronaldo, who looked frustrated and disinterested at times.
A positive for Madrid was the first half performance from
young Norwegian Martin Odegaard. The 16 year old struggled at Madrid on
arrival, but his performance tonight will be beneficial to his confidence, and
may make manager Benitez think twice about loaning the attacker.
Gervinho looked a class above the rest on the left wing,
managing to link up with Roma legend Francesco Totti on multiple occasions. If
Gervinho could put away more chances, he would be categorized with some of the
best in the world.
To the crowd’s disappointment, Totti was subbed off in the
30th minute followed by Ronaldo and Bale making way at half time.
The display ended in a draw, and was headed for penalties.
Spectators decided to create their own entertainment and
throw paper air-planes onto the field, adding more excitement and noise from the
fans than during the actual game.
For a match that concluded in a scoreless draw, the players surprisingly
couldn’t miss the target from the spot. It took 12 penalties for the game to be
decided, after Lucas Vasquez shanked his shot into the path of Roma keeper De
All in all, the game was a simple training run for the
players, and a chance for the managers to get a grasp on their tactical preparations
for the upcoming season.
Roma Manager Rudi Garcia was happy with Roma’s overall performance,
and praised Gervinho for his dedication to the team.
“This squad knows each other very well, the mechanisms
are already there. We still lack some speed and intensity.
“Gervinho was supposed to come back from the national
team on July 13. He came back a week earlier because he wanted to be part of
the training camp. That shows his dedication. He played in the World Cup
and the Africa Cup of Nations with Cote d’Ivoire. When he came back he wasn’t
fit and he paid for that”.
Danny De Silva looks unlikely to get a run in their next
game on Tuesday night, after Garcia felt reluctant to sit the young 17 year old
“Most of all we’ve
given him the chance to train with the squad. I couldn’t see all my
young players. That’s why (Francesco) Totti, (Seydou) Doumbia and (Mattia)
Destro only played 30 minutes.”
Roma take on Manchester City on Tuesday night, followed by a
sold out Champions League rematch between Manchester City and Real Madrid.
Words By ARI CHARILAOU. Photography by