Barcelona - A Game Of Contrasts
Real Madrid paid for a poor start and some sloppy periods during the game, having battled back from two down, against Barcelona in Miami's El Clásico at the weekend.
In a first 'friendly', if such a thing is possible, between Real and Barcelona since 1991, which was only the second ever Clásico outside of Spain, Barca claimed the early season bragging rights with a 3-2 victory at the Hard Rock Stadium.
Over 66,000 fans saw Barcelona race into an early lead when Lionel Messi and Ivan Rakitic scored but Real recovered and goals from Mateo Kovacic and Marco Asensio brought Los Blancos level.
However, it was Barca who had the last say, after a spectacular half time show, as Gerard Pique, of all people really, scored the winner from a Neymar assisted freekick.
Real failed to win a game in the International Champions Cup, not that it matters too much in pre-season, as we are focusing on the bigger prizes ahead, which get underway against Manchester United with the European Super Cup on August 8th.
Zinedine Zidane knows it wasn't a particularly good performance from Real overall and admitted, when quoted by realmadrid.com from his news conference, a poor start was part of the contrasting game for his side but battling to get back into the game had pleased the boss.
'We made a very poor start. They went 2-0 up within the first six or seven minutes and that was all down to a lack of concentration, we can't go thinking that it was down to anything else. We then started to gain a foothold and played our game, we had some good spells but overall you couldn't say that this was a good performance from us,' said Zidane.
Adding: 'We didn't look to hide. We came out looking to perform well and do a good job. We face Barcelona again in a few days but this was a game of contrasts: we started poorly, we then got into the game and then we gave the ball away too easily on a number of occasions, which isn't like us.'
He wasn't 'bothered' by defeat though, much as any hurts.
'This is pre-season and I'm sure that the results we've achieved weren't what we were expecting, but this doesn't alter anything. The important thing is to be ready for 8 August. I saw some good things out there, but also some things I didn't like. We've got to be patient, work hard and be ready for the UEFA Super Cup. I'm not bothered by the defeat. It always hurts, we don't like to lose but that's not the most important thing. We need to improve and change a few things.'
Real might have failed to win a game in this pre-season competition but Zidane still feels he has gained enough from them to take things forward as a positive, results haven't been great but things that haven't gone so well will, all being well, be eradicated ahead of the Super Cup.
Zidane concluded: 'We won't be going into it short on preparation. We've been working well up until now, we've done what we planned to and we head to Chicago for our last game and then we'll think about the Super Cup. It may not have been apparent in the three games, but there have been some good elements within the performances. The important thing is the result and in that sense we're not going through our best patch.'
Meanwhile, Sergio Ramos also gave his assessment of the game in a news conference too.
The captain too was quoted by realmadrid.com: 'It goes without saying that we'd have liked the outcome to have been different, because whenever it's a Clásico the motivation levels are even greater. We're currently in the pre-season preparation stage, which can be used to make improvements. We improved after the opening 10 minutes and managed to get an equaliser, but they ultimately went on to take victory. We've got to move on from this and keep working hard.'
Adding: 'They made a high-intensity start and took their chances. That set some alarms ringing and we pressed higher up the pitch until we started to pose a threat and this was reflected in the scoreline. They then restored their lead from a set piece and there a lot of conclusions to be drawn.'
Ramos couldn't wait to return for pre-season and as much as results haven't pleased him he went on to talk about this being about 'preparing yourself fitness-witness' for the campaign ahead with 'silverware at stake' from further games ahead of the La Liga season his aim to claim in the coming week.
As far as Barcelona's Neymar was concerned he said 'let's hope that he leaves', having been strongly linked with Paris Saint Germain, as 'it would give us one less thing to think about.'