Manchester United 3-1 Real Madrid: European Clubs Make US Soccer History

ANN ARBOR, MICH. – It was billed as possibly being the largest soccer crowd in the history of the United States. And it didn’t disappoint.

In front of 109,318 fans at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich., travelers from around the world that had descended on the town that houses the University of Michigan were treated to a spectacle that never had the feel of a pre-season warm-up match. As a part of the Guinness International Champions Cup, Manchester United were 3-1 winners over Real Madrid Saturday, advancing to the Guinness International Champions Cup Final Monday night at Sun Life Stadium in Miami.

Even though it was said in the days leading up to the match that Cristiano Ronaldo wouldn’t be available for the match, fans still got what they wanted, even if he only played for the final 15 minutes of the match. Ronaldo dazzled when he had the ball at his feet and the cell phone flashes were aplenty with many of the fans getting their very first glimpse in person of the Portuguese star.

It should be said that United fielded a much stronger side than Madrid could have. Players like Fabio Coentrao, Sami Khedira, Raphael Varane, Marcelo and Angel Di Maria were all deemed unavailable for the match. On the other side, it was the likes of Rafael, Chris Smalling and Nani who were the only ones either unavailable or didn’t feature.

From the start, it was United dominating the run of play. Through the first 10 minutes of the match, they were more composed and possessed the ball much better than Madrid. Specifically, the striking partnership of Wayne Rooney and Denny Welbeck, along with the involvement of Juan Mata playing behind them worked really well together.

United were able to strike first on some beautiful build-up play. Antonio Valencia played a ball to Fletcher down the right-hand side, who then used Wayne Rooney for a clever one-two, before a cross fell to Welbeck atop the 18-yard box. But, instead of shooting, he made the extra pass to a wide-open Ashley Young who beat Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas to the near post, making it 1-0.

But, just a few minutes later halfway through the first half, Gareth Bale began what would turn out to be a day-long clinic on United defender Michael Keane, beating him around the edge with pure speed and drawing a penalty just on the inside of the box. Bale stepped up and made United goalkeeper David De Gea guess the wrong way, easily converting to level things 1-1.

Before the break, Ashley Young used one of the many Louis van Gaal long balls in the game, attempting to try and find the head of Wayne Rooney. Rooney and Madrid defender Sergio Ramos both made an attempt to win the ball, but neither could get a touch on it. Casillas, anticipating a touch from either Rooney or Ramos, was out of position, and Young’s cross innocently found the back of the net, giving United a 2-1 lead heading into the break.

Real Madrid had a much better start to the second half, with Bale shouldering most of the attacking responsibilities. Young Spanish midfielder Isco also showed flashes of why Madrid thought highly enough of him to bring him aboard from Málaga in Jaunary 2013 for €35 million. The combination of Bale and Isco in the attack provided some relief for the back line, but it didn’t produce any goals. Ronaldo entered the match in the 74th minute, sending the crowd into a tizzy. However, no matter what Madrid tried, not much was getting through the United defense.

The addition of Javier Hernandez seemed to give the match another jolt of energy, making his runs in behind the back line as he loves to do. And sure enough, a ball from substitute Shinji Kagawa got in behind and Hernandez was waiting there to bury it in the back of the net, making it 3-1.

United was much the better team in Ann Arbor. The former Netherlands boss’ system at Manchester is really beginning to take hold and you’re seeing what type of effect it’s having. Darren Fletcher was bright and calm on the ball, distributing at a very high clip; Wayne Rooney was craving the ball up top; and Ashley Young, while making sure to include is patented diving exhibition once in a while, was able to finish when called upon.

Youngster Jesse Lingard, a 21-year-old who spent time on loan with Brighton & Hove Albion last season, is one name you may want to remember in the future. Another loan spell in the Championship this season would do him well the Englishman showed flashes of an up-and-coming winger.

Michigan Stadium is now in the record books for hosting the largest soccer match in U.S. history with attention now shifting to Monday’s final between United and rivals Liverpool.

Manchester United – David De Gea; Phil Johns, Jonny Evans (Tyler Blackett, 45’), Michael Keane; Ashley Young (Luke Shaw, 45’), Darren Fletcher, Ander Herrera (Tom Cleverley, 45’), Juan Mata (Shinji Kagawa, 62’), Antonio Valencia (Jesse Lingard, 62’); Danny Welbeck (Wilfried Zaha, 43’), Wayne Rooney (Javier Hernandez, 62’).

Real Madrid – Iker Casillas; Alvaro Arbeloa (Cristiano Ronaldo, 74’), Sergio Ramos, Pepe, Nacho Fernandez, Daniel Carvajl; Xabi Alonso (Raul de Tomas, 56’), Luka Modric, Isco, Asier Illarramendi; Gareth Bale

The 2014 International Champions Cup is sponsored by Guinness. You can follow Guinness on Twitter at @GuinnessUS.

12 thoughts on “Manchester United 3-1 Real Madrid: European Clubs Make US Soccer History”

  1. Kagawa and Keane looked good. Notso (Cleverly) looked his normal self. King of the two yard pass into trouble, as well as not knowing what a ball forward might be.

    The announcer J P Dellacamera was decent. Thank God fox didn’t grace us with the legend in his own mind…gus.

  2. This exposures the myth that Real Madrid and Barcelona are the most popular teams in the world. The stadium was was probably 80% Man Utd fans and the English teams have got the biggest crowds in this international tournament.

    Marca the Spanish Sports paper was so embarrassed that there were far more Man Utd fans in the crowd that they photoshopped the photos on their website and made all the red fans white to suggest the crowd was all Real fans. lol

    1. I didn’t know “The World” was the USA…

      Real and Barca have a stranglehold on Latin American support, and a lot of African support.

      English clubs are not well supported at all in Latin America. They have good support in Africa and Asia, though.

      I’d say Man U, Liverpool, Barca and Real Madrid have roughly equal support across the world.

      1. Latin people don’t make up the rest of the world. Have you even been to Asia and Africa? You obviously haven’t because you wouldn’t be saying Spanish football is as popular as English football if you had actually went there like me. I would say Barcelona and Real Madrid are less popular in Asia and Africa than North America because both teams are only huge in Latin countries. yes in Asia and Africa they have heard of Messi and Ronaldo but go there and you see the teams most people are passionate about are the big English teams. La Liga gets 50 Million global viewers each week, the EPL gets 300 Million. This is enough evidence that shows more people around the world are supporters of English teams. Asia pays 1 billion for EPL rights and African TV companies pay 750 Million for EPL righs. La Liga gets nowhere near that amount because their isn’t enough fans around the world passionate about it.

      2. Don’t let media foul you, R.M and Barc are nowhere near popular as English team. EPL teams even the smallest attract more viewers than RM or Barc. Try to go to country like Japan, Korea, Milesian…etc. and compare yourself EPL and La Liga. EPL keep breaking record audience in Asia and In Africa people are dying and loosing wives because of EPL, have you ever hear something near like that about La Liga teams anywhere in world? Even La Liga chief executive says they are nowhere near EPL and I heard the same thing with Bundes chief executive. I live in France, Ligue 1 chef executive says last January they need to start to build their fan base in world before they start to compete with Bundes, and he said to think about EPL it is almost impossible, where Bundes recommended 90 million Euro for four year in Asia, Ligue 1 only get 30 million but EPL get Billion of pound for three year. I remember Bernie Ecclestone said he want Formula 1 to be popular as much as EPL, because it seems like “everywhere I go people watching Man Utd.”

        Sorry for my English.

      3. One more thing, Latin countries do not really take La Liga teams to their heart to even think, because they have their own teams. They could not pay more money to La Liga than their own Leagues, but Asia or Africa pay more money to EPL than they pay for their own Leagues. When Florentino Pérez, came for the second time he said they (La Liga) need to start to rival EPL starting buying EPL player because these players are big stars in Asia, And they need to change what time they going to play, so he asked the League to start to play at 11h00 never seen before, now Italy start game Sunday morning. Now EPL change tactic they focus on North America and NBC paid what all of us know. If we believe report NBC give Tim Howard Everton goalkeeper Multi-Year Deal, that mean NBC is here to stay, they going to do everything to keep EPL and we know Fox and ESPN where taken by surprise by NBC, next bidding will be street fight between them that mean good for EPL, because however going to take it guarantee will pay more than what NBC did paid.

        Sorry for my English.

        1. You are absolutely right. They are saying the next EPL deal could reach 15 Billion because NBC have proved their is an audience for English football on mainstream TV and NBC, ESPN and Fox are going to battle for the US rights.

          Real Madrid and Barcelona have to buy big name players from the Premier League to attract global attention because less people around the world watch La Liga. But they are using 50% of the La Liga TV money to do this which is bankrupting the rest of the teams in La Liga and makes it less competitive a major reason why people prefer English football amongst the causal fans. Plus the EPL has hardcore foreign fans something other European teams don’t have.

    2. Using one game in Ann Arbor, Michigan as a barometer for the “world” is a little ridiculous. My statistics students would find your sample quite bias and not representative of the population. As a math teacher, the only claim I can make is ManU is more popular than Real Madrid among people who can afford a US friendly in “the great white north” of the lower 48 states.

    1. Want to know who did? SUM, the marketing arm of MLS, who organised this tournament. So if you ever wonder how MLS stays afloat . . .

      1. SUM has nothing to do with the International Champions Cup and Relevent Sports events. SUM/MLS doesn’t make a dime from them, and they see the International Champions Cup as a threat.

        For the vast majority of friendlies in the United States, including Mexico National Team games, MLS/SUM makes a ton of money from them.

        1. I stand corrected. SUM was behind the World Football Challenge that they used to have, and i assumed the ICC was just a rebranding of that.

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