Editor’s note: EPL Talk blogger Robbie Kotoviets put on his journalist hat recently and went to the Toronto versus Real Madrid in friendly to cover the game for La Liga Talk. Below you’ll find his observations regarding the press conference and game, as well as a slideshow of photographs taken from BMO Field. Enjoy.
Real Madrid Press Conference
The pregame festivities didn’t feel at all as if it were just a regular training session. More like a cup tie. Sitting in the press conference room and being surrounded by journalists from all over the world gave it a great sense of importance. Spanish media outlets and those from English speaking countries dominated the atmosphere. Personally I felt like a kid at his first day at Toys R’ Us. The hard part was waiting anxiously for manager Pelligrini, Guti and Iker Casillas to walk into the room. Seeing them in person and on television is completely different.
When the question session started most of the Spanish media were ready to pounce. For them covering their beloved Real Madrid was a cake walk. More of the media here were a bit taken back I should say but nonetheless were very involved. Throughout the conference Pelligrini was asked about what he knew about Toronto FC and what his goals were for the future in terms of Real Madrid and their pursuit to win trophies.
Pelligrini knew little of Toronto FC but was aware of their CONCACAF Champions league aspiration after being knocked out by Puerto Rico. Also, that this was a great way for getting all the new signings to “gel” together and see how their in game-form would pan out.
Now we all know the lifespan of a Real Madrid manager and having been successful with Villarreal, Pelligrini knows the pressure is on. “The first challenge is to win with Real Madrid and to satisfy the team and the supporters,” said Pelligrini. So he knows the pressure is on and has to deliver on all campaigns. That’s easier said then done. Just remember Vincente Del Bosque.
Guti is quit pleased with the return of Florentine Peres and is happy with the big money signings that he hopes will bring success. As for the new signings of Arbeloa and Xavi Alonso, Pelligrini is happy and looks forward to incorporating them into the existing base.
After the q&a session ended, the team shirts were exchanged which I thought was a nice gesture on the part of both squads. Very classy.
Real Madrid Training Session
Now, to the training session. I have never seen anything like that. BMO felt like a cup final which was a sign of things to come for the match still to play. Raul, Guti, Benzema (larger in stature then I thought), Higauin, Robben, Sneijder, Casillas and the rest of the squad were all at hand. Getting to field level I was awed by the impromptu five a side which saw a Ronaldo dive take place which got the whole crowds attention including a few jeers as well. For me the hardest working player in training was Drenthe. He really looks like a man on a mission and I think we’ll see him grow throughout the La Liga campaign.
Speaking to fans outside after the training session the consensus was that it was a dream come true to see one of the biggest clubs in the world and that it’s something they will talk about for years to come.
Toronto FC v Real Madrid
All I can say “it was incredible.” Entering BMO was a challenge, a sea of people all over. The smell of food stalls and team chants from both TFC and Real Madrid fans were rampant everywhere. A real football atmosphere. You could tell it was different from an MLS match simply by the intensity in the air and the amount of media that were covering it, including La Liga Talk.
Heading up to the media press box was defiantly an experience. Seeing everyone from the top Canadian, U.S. and International outlets was amazing. Everyone from the world was there. Including James Sharman from The Score Network. After reaching the top I couldn’t believe the view. Fans were filling the stadium and awaiting the entrance of both squads.
When the two teams entered BMO was shaking you couldn’t tell if it was the fans or an actual earthquake. With the Toronto skyline as a backdrop, the match was ready to go.
First Real Madrid entered with all the names being read it was no surprise that Ronaldo was who everyone came to see, and later, he wouldn’t disappoint. Then TFC entered and we were all ready to go. When both the national anthems of Spain and Canada were sung all the fans sang, but the Canadian one understandably more so. Streamers and even the smoke canister were on hand to get the crowed going.
After the whistle was blown to start the match, the match was on and from that point no one was in doubt that Real Madrid would control the match. With Raul opening the scoring, Cristiano Ronaldo (CR9) didn’t disappoint the BMO faithful after putting the ball near side past the keeper from Benzema.
Raul would then put in his second from Metzelder and Albiol finishing it of with a header. A sublime piece work I must say.
Benzema would make it 4-0 until TFC with a massive yell of relief from the crowd made it a 4-1 with a goal from Gabe Gala which left Casillas stranded.
Arjen Robben rapped things up to make it 5-1 to the Madradistas. For tonight’s match, there were no losers. The city of Toronto (the most multicultural city in the world), TFC and its fans were treated to a spectacle of Spanish wizardry. For TFC, they got a chance to play against the world’s best and hopefully this experience will help them in their drive for a playoff spot when they host D.C. United on August 15th for a crucial match.
For me this was an experience of a lifetime but more so as a fan. We watch the teams that we support week in and week out. We talk about them, have opinions on them and write about them. To see them in person is not only an honor but a privilege. I am glad I could share my experiences with you and I hope you will go see your favorite teams battle it out wherever it may be. This is something I will talk about for a long time.