LOS ANGELES — With the fanfare of their victory on Saturday long since forgotten, Real Madrid were back on the training field preparing for their second match in the World Football Challenge.
Less than a day after defeating the LA Galaxy 4-1, the Merengues returned to their familiar training pitch on the campus of UCLA, looking ahead to Wednesday’s match in San Diego against Mexican powerhouse Chivas de Guadalajara (11 pm ET, ESPN2, ESPN Deportes).
Into their second week of preseason training ahead of the rigorous European calendar, Madrid have been undergoing a strict practice regimen with training sessions twice a day. While the prestigious Spanish club has stated that they want to win the World Football Challenge, the true focus is preparation.
"It's always important to win, but the most important thing is to get better,” defender Álvaro Arbeloa said during a press conference. “The team is working really hard on physical aspect, but every day we feel better and now we have to do the same on Wednesday."
During the match against the Galaxy, Madrid’s mastery appeared overwhelming. Whether it was the darting runs of José Callejón or precise passing from newcomer Fábio Coentrão, Real showcased why they’re tipped to be one of the best teams in Europe this season.
And they needed to — though the team impressed, head coach José Mourinho has stated that the club is actively looking to bring in reinforcements to bolster Real even further.
While Mourinho may be focused on adding to Real’s cavalcade of stars, it has not stopped members of the Spanish media from wondering whether or not this current Real Madrid squad may be the finest edition in the club’s history. When asked about whether or not this Madrid side was superior to the teams of Alfredo di Stéfano, Ronaldo or Zinedine Zidane, Arbeloa couldn’t help but chuckle.
"I don't know all the teams in history, but it must be because we have very good players and even two for each position,” the Spanish international said with a laugh. “We need a team like this because we have a long season with many tournaments as well as very demanding expectations."
While many are discussing their place in the club’s prestigious history, this side remains focused on their work on the training pitch in preparation for Wednesday’s match. The goal at the moment: not to be the best ever, but to simply continue getting better each day.
"We’ve showed our improvement from last year and even from last week,” said Arbeloa. “So far, we're doing much better than we were even last week and on Wednesday, we'll even perform better."
Adam Serrano writes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter: @adamserrano