Valencia 3 – 2 Real Madrid

August 19, 2008 | Filed Under: Euro Box 
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The season has officially begun. Bernd Schuster came up with an experienced line-up, including Salgado, Javi García, Heinze and Torres in defence -the men to have played more minutes during the team’s pre-season-. He made the right choice; they all performed well against an agressive Valencia, especially Javi García and Heinze, aided by Diarra’s defensive skills. Rafael van der Vaart made his official debut with the Whites and was very active throughout the encounter, taking several free-kicks and having his goal radar on at all times.

Emery’s Valencia had the difficult task of proving that the changes he’s made have been for the better. They tried to set their own pace to the game by creating fast ball movement in the opening minutes, which saw both sides taking the initiative. Iker Casillas soon had to prove he is as fit as he was at the end of the previous campaign by saving Villa’s powerful shot from inside the box (5′) and a lob by Moretti coming in from one of the wings -the ball hit Salgado, but the keeper managed to make a magical save nonetheless-.

While the locals kept attacking down the left wing, Real Madrid created some chances on goal. Ruud van Nistelrooy came close to finishing off a cross by Van der Vaart on the 10-minute mark. He received a great pass from Rubén de la Red three minutes later and sent the ball past Hilderbrand from the outer edge of the box, tallying his first strike of the season.

Valencia kept active through David Villa, who was determined to defeat Casillas. The team’s best chances always came through David Silva, especially a shot that hit the post in the 42nd minute. The Madridistas were well positioned and kept the game under control, occasionally showcasing brilliant football, like when Van der Vaart’s header hit the post right after a brilliant play that culminated in a cross by Miguel Torres (31′).

Valencia intensified the pace to the game in the second half and turned the score around within five minutes. Former Madridista Juan Mata netted the equalizer on the 55-minute mark with a fantastic shot and gave the assist for his team’s second goal four minutes later with a cross from the left wing that David Villa managed to head into the back of the net.

Schuster brought Sergio Ramos and Robben on and the team reacted. The latter crossed the ball for Van Nistelrooy to score the equalizer after a brilliant run down the left, dribbling past every defender that got in his way (67′). The game was open after these strikes and both sides had chances to score, from Diarra’s powerful shot from outside the box (73′) to the shot by Villa that Torres was forced to save right on the goal-line (76′). In the end, the scales tipped towards Valencia’s side when Vicente scored the winner after a great triangulation with Silva (80′).

The winner of the Trophy will be decided at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium next weekend.

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