El Centrocampista

ANYTHING BUT FRIENDLY – Absurd warm-up games and Valencia travel to Anfield

By Archie Buck

I’m currently watching Real Madrid dominate a game in which their movement has been sensational, creating chance after chance.

Mesut Ozil, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo all look untouchable, in fact the Portuguese maestro has just back-heeled a beautiful ball past two defenders for Benzema to slot home.

Three goals to nil,  after 40 minutes, at walking pace.

Then you step back and put things into perspective. This isn’t Europe, this isn’t even a competitive game.

It’s a marketing tour to Asia, and Real are currently playing the minnows of Guangzhou.

The home fans are cheering louder for CR7 than they are for their own team.

Angel Di Maria later showboated inside the area to pick out Jese for a seventh goal, to pretty much sum up the absurdity of pitting the two sides together.

The Chinese club’s most recent import Cleo, a relatively average striker from Brazil, is averaging more than a goal a game in the Chinese League.

This tells you all you need to know about the competitiveness of this fixture.

There is no benefit to this game in footballing terms, sure Cristiano adds a little more to his ego, must be close to peaking, surely.

The match exists to spread the gospel of the Madridista to the far reaches of the world.

In my opinion, there are more productive ways to do this and maybe even follow the Italian Football Federation’s lead.

The Suppercoppa Italiana will be staged in Beijing this weekend for the third time in four years – giving the Chinese public a chance to see the Milan giants battle it out in what is, in reality a glorified albeit competitive friendly.

Of course there is a need to warm players into games after the summer months, but this can be done with local teams without the need to exhaust players with round-the-world travel.

It would also bring some much-needed exposure for the cash-strapped smaller clubs.

After all, if you’re going to play an absurdly unmatched friendly match – why travel across the globe to do it?

The real use of friendlies is to pitch your wits against a similar opposition, playing at the same level, with the aim of seeing how you stack up in real terms.

The point of the above mentioned Real Madrid friendly then exactly? Well obviously I know the real answer to that and it has nothing to do with improving the performance of the players..

This weekend at Anfield however, a friendly will be played that matches two competitive sides and promises to be a real marker of how both teams will fare going into the new campaign .

Liverpool host Valencia in their final pre-season match with both clubs enduring a mixed pre season.

Valencia have beaten Sporting CP in Lisbon, and also came out victorious in a  hard fought battle against Hamburg.

They have also been demolished 4-1 by Rapid Vienna.

Liverpool will be their final opponents before the side return to Spain for two final matches against Roma and lastly, recently relegated Almeria.

Juan Mata- A chance to show Liverpool what they could have had

Both clubs are in the the second stage of a rebuilding process, after overcoming recent turmoil, and will be looking to build on strong finishes last season.

It should be a great encounter with quality players on both sides; Luis Suarez is yet to appear for Liverpool following his Copa America exertions and should get a solid run out.

Unai Emery will field a strong line-up as well.

Though it will not be a overly-combative game, it will be competitive.

Both sides will be trying to win.

As we approach the start of the season it’s one of the final opportunities for players to impress their respective managers and stake a claim for a place in the starting XI.

The Valenica backline are sure to get a thorough examination from a lively Liverpool attack, especially if Suarez is given ample game time.

He is a player at the top of his game at this moment in time and has made a seamless transition from Dutch football. If Valencia can shackle him then it could be a promising sign.

There will be other exciting talents on display, the likes of Mata, Hernandez, Piatti and Canales for the Spaniards, and Carroll, Downing and new-boy Jordan Henderson for Liverpool are sure to feature at some point in the match.

Although you cannot judge everything on pre-season matches, it could genuinely give an early indication to the state both sides are in with the new campaign just around the corner.



  1. leeroden

    5 August, 2011 at 10:02

    The Madrid friendly was an absolute joke. Whatever happened to respect in friendlies where you don’t humiliate teams who are clearly inferior? Would 4 goals not have sufficed?

    Good article.

  2. Archie Buck

    5 August, 2011 at 18:23

    Just a note, now unfortunately Luis Suarez won’t be returning till next week!

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