SAN DIEGO — The old adage says that if at first you don’t succeed, try and try again. That definitely was the case for Real Madrid in a 3-0 victory over Guadalajara in a World Football Challenge match on Wednesday night.
Despite dominating the match from beginning to end, no matter what los Merengues threw at their Mexican counterparts, they just couldn’t seem to break through. At least not until the 73rd minute, when Cristiano Ronaldo struck from close range and opened the floodgates.
“It was good preparation for us,” said Real Madrid manager José Mourinho in his postgame press conference. “I knew that would be the case. … [Mexican teams] are difficult to play against. They’re aggressive, commit lots of fouls, they’re teams that defend a lot. But that’s what we needed. We don’t need easy games, we don’t need to win 10-0. We need to play teams that make it hard for us. Chivas made it hard for us.”
In the first half, Real Madrid completely hogged the ball, allowing Guadalajara just 33 percent of possession to their 67 percent. Threading passes and making quick runs, los Blancos threw everything except the kitchen sink at Chivas, but the Mexican side made it difficult and goalkeeper Luis Míchel seemed practically unbeatable.
In just the first 45 alone, Real Madrid had Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Raphael Verane all get shots on target, but Míchel’s gloves were all over each attempt.
Despite squandering multiple chances in the first half, defender Raúl Albiol said that it doesn’t worry the team that they couldn't find the net.
“They were a complicated rival,” he admitted. “[But] we’re in preseason, we’re finding our rhythm and so the first half was good. They pressured us a lot and made us work.”
The second half looked like it would mirror the first. After Míchel stuffed attempt after attempt, it took a great individual effort from Ronaldo to finally break through. In the 73rd minute, he brought a ball down between two defenders and poked it into the net.
Then, in a span of nine minutes, he buried a penalty kick and a cross from Mezut Özil to finish his hat trick.
“We had to win today,” said Ronaldo, the reigning La Liga Pichichi winner. “The second half was better than the first one. I scored three goals, which made me happy, but the most important thing is winning. We’re continuing to work to get in shape.”
The win over Guadalajara represents the second in as many games in the World Football Challenge for Real Madrid. Los Blancos now go on to Philadelphia to take on the Union on Saturday in their third and final trip of the tournament before returning home to Spain.
“We’ve got to keep preparing ourselves physically, to keep gaining confidence, gaining match rhythm,” said midfielder Esteban Granero. “I think this has been a positive match from which we can learn many things. It helps our preparation.”