In one of the most highly billed matches of the fourth annual International Champions Cup, Real Madrid defeated Bayern Munich in the final ten minutes of an exciting affair Wednesday night. Despite several second half substitutions by both sides, the game was engaging and well appreciated by the 82,012 fans who packed MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
It’s easy to write off preseason matches as meaningless endeavors meant to promote the team in a foreign market – especially one as profitable as that of the United States. But the game between Bayern and Real had more to it than a typical preseason friendly. The Bundesliga champions, coached by Carlo Ancelotti, were without the services of Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Müller up top, so the Italian turned to Julian Green to lead the line.
A day before the match at MetLife Stadium, Ancelotti offered his thoughts on the young American and his role in the team while speaking at the team hotel in Hoboken, New Jersey. Speaking to the Washington Post, Ancelotti said “I think [Julian] is better through the middle because he is quick and has good timing. Of course, he can play out wide, but I think he is more efficient at center forward.”
Green scored in Ancelotti’s first match in charge of the German outfit, and it’s clear he values the youngster’s potential.
The Bayern striker notched a first half hat trick against Inter Milan, taking his tally in the tournament to four goals, and he could have added a fifth or sixth against Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid. Green found space between Raphael Varane and Sergio Ramos on several occasions. One can understand why Ancelotti was so impressed with his movement through the middle.
Speaking to World Soccer Talk after the match, Green admitted that he was very happy with his and the team’s performance, and stressed that it was important to him to be involved with the first team. “I thought I could have scored one goal, but the first half was better than the second [for me]. Despite today’s result, I think we can be very happy with the tour, and now we’re going back to focus on the start of the season. For me, it’s always great to come back here, to the States – even more with Bayern. Every game with the first team is very important. I played 90 minutes in most of the games, and it’s great to get back in the flow with these guys.”
Green’s development could be crucial under Ancelotti, with whom he said he’s had several positive conversations. Unlike Guardiola, who suggested Green join a team on loan while relegating him to the reserves, Ancelotti feels the American deserves to stay with the team. “He [Green] will be with us. There is a lot of competition in the squad; it won’t be easy for him to play – but this preseason he is doing well.”
If the young striker is able to consistently offer the type of quality he’s been displaying in preseason, Ancelotti will be glad to have him at his disposal in the upcoming season if and when his first choice strikers sustain an injury or fail to perform.