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Benitez pragmatic about shoot-out setback

Rafael Benitez is unconcerned by losing his first match in charge of Real Madrid, insisting it is only natural that his side lacked cutting edge at such an early stage in pre-season. 

The Spanish giants were defeated 7-6 on penalties by Roma in Melbourne as the opening game of the International Champions Cup drew a crowd of over 80,000 fans to the iconic MCG. 

Gareth Bale and Seydou Doumbia were among the Real players to spurn opportunities to break the deadlock during a goalless stalemate. 

In the shoot-out, the first 12 spot-kicks were converted before Morgan De Sanctis kept out Lucas Vazquez’s effort.

Benitez, however, was far from disheartened.

“There were many positives,” he said. “The team has come together well and created chances. 

“We just didn’t manage to take advantage of these opportunities, but we’ve only been working for five days and it is normal to lack that bit of pace and precision. 

“I was quite happy with the team in many areas, but there are some adjustments we need to make.

“In the first half we had more control and passed the ball well, while in the second, I thought we showed good energy levels.

“Everyone did what they had to do for the team and I thought it was a good, strong overall team performance.”

Luka Modric, Dani Carvajal and new signing Danilo were among Real’s more impressive performers in a game short on clear-cut chances, while Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo also featured prominently and Karim Benzema and Isco were both introduced from the bench. 

Sergio Ramos was among the starters, despite continuing speculation that he is heading to Manchester United.

Next on the agenda for Real is a clash with Manchester City on Friday and Benitez remains happy with the way the club’s pre-season preparations are panning out.

“It’s all about strength training and starting to pick up the pace at this stage,” he said.

“The pre-season is always an opportunity to see the players work and for all the players to show that they want to be here. That’s normal for pre-season.”

Sat 18 Jul, 2015
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