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Real Madrid takes on L.A. Galaxy in exhibition match

Players for Spanish soccer giant Real Madrid say they're motivated to play the Galaxy at the Los Angeles Coliseum on Saturday.

July 15, 2011|By Douglas Farmer
  • Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo prepares to answer a question about the exhibition game against the Galaxy during a news conference on Tuesday.
Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo prepares to answer a question about… (Kevork Djansezian / Getty…)

It neither counts nor matters. Saturday's game at the Coliseum between the Galaxy and Real Madrid is only an exhibition match. Everybody knows that.

Except, it seems, the players.

The second meeting in two summers between the Spanish soccer giant and the MLS-leading Galaxy will not influence any standings. But because this will be the first time Real Madrid has been on the field as a unit since its season ended in May, even the players are looking forward to the fan spectacle.

"This will be amazing for us to play against the Galaxy," Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo said. "It's the best team here in [Los Angeles], so to play against these guys will be good. … If you play against good teams, it's better for us. We feel more motivated."

Galaxy midfielder David Beckham, who spent four years with Real Madrid before joining the Galaxy, expects his former team to look for a win above all else.

"No team comes over here from Europe wanting to lose games," he said. "It's important for players. They've got strong personalities, strong characters, and no player that plays at that level wants to lose games, whether it's a friendly or league games. They're passionate and competitive people."

Real Madrid has not played to a high enough level lately, at least not by its standards. Of the three titles it chases each year, Real Madrid claimed only one last season, the other two landing in the hands of its main rival, FC Barcelona.

Thus, Real Madrid has gone three seasons without a league title and nine seasons without winning the UEFA Champions League. In fact, the sole trophy Real Madrid won in 2011, the Copa del Rey, ended up smashed beneath a double-decker bus when defender Sergio Ramos lost his grip on it during the team's victory parade.

"We are anxious to correct the mistakes we made last year," Ramos said through an interpreter, presumably referring more to performances on the field than in parades. "We can only think about preparing ourselves and doing our best both collectively and individually."

With two training sessions a day at UCLA, Real Madrid Coach Jose Mourinho does not expect a top-notch performance this weekend.

"It's not a priority, but everybody wants to win," he said. "My team will not be at the top because we just started training today."

Despite exhibition status the Real Madrid players insist this is a match they traveled nearly 6,000 miles to win.

"We know we have a lot of fans in the U.S., so we feel like we need to respond to the interest of the fans," midfielder Esteban Granero said through an interpreter. "So we try always to win because that's part of being Real Madrid."

douglas.farmer@latimes.com

twitter.com/d_farmer

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