The summer days always fill football with light, and on a golden evening in Bournemouth there was no drama, and the hope that the days to come will be better than those in the past. Seeing a new-look team at this time of year usually goes down well with the fans and at least there’s a whole winter to come in which opinions are formed. This Madrid side certainly has a new feel about it. In Isco they may well have found a new commander as young as a new recruit, and in Cristiano, well, there was more of the same quality: razor-sharp, unstoppable, lethal in front of goal. His contract renewal is the beginning of any route to be mapped out.
The weaknesses of a Bournemouth side playing in the Championship could gloss over first impressions, but Ancelotti wants Madrid to have more than one dimension and in this their first friendly they played both at a canter and at full throttle. At times Madrid are prone to hitting other teams hard, an ambush at full speed, but in Isco and Modric they also have two players that can keep hold of the ball and dictate play.
Madrid were in full control here, with and without the ball, through Cristiano and through Isco. The new addition played so naturally and with such skill, linking up superbly with Cristiano, that before after 30 minutes he had already left his mark with two backheels for the scrapbook; the fact he wasn’t on the scoresheet was a crying shame.
The rest of the Madrid side shined a little less brightly: Carvajal needs to be braver, Benzema looked like he was still lazing around the pool, Özil lacked the usual bite, Khedira disappeared for long periods and nothing was really required of Nacho, Pepe and the keeper.
During this ‘stroll in the park’, feared so much by Bournemouth’s central defender, Steve Cook, Madrid began to carry increasing threat in front of goal. The second came from a defensive slip by Elphic as Isco sent the ball forward for his new partner in crime, Ronaldo. The third also had an element of fortune about it as the ball found its way to Khedira from a corner and the midfielder poked the ball home.
Next, a change of personnel and a change of approach - with the same result. Madrid were more direct but less dominant, spearheaded in attack by Morata and Higuaín. The player from the ranks did a decent job covering Cristiano’s usual stomping ground and as the Argentinian striker wore the captain’s armband and scored a goal with his first chance of the game, thoughts turned once again to his imminent departure and whether he should be part of the plan. Kaká also sent out a (half-written) message of hope to Ancelotti as he hit the crossbar and Di María scored a goal for the old regime with a fine long-range effort. Illarramendi featured but is still looking to get back to full fitness, while Casemiro popped up to score Madrid’s sixth as he blasted the ball into the back of the net with conviction. Cherysev, tried on the left with promising results, offers hope for the future with his speed and agility. Clearly he will face tougher tests than this, but he was far superior to Coentrao in what was a happy start for Ancelotti’s new reign in charge of Real Madrid.