The International Champions Cup continued on Tuesday night with Italian side A.S. Roma upsetting Spanish giants Real Madrid 1-0, with an amazing goal from Francesco Totti. Manchester United now leads Group A of the preseason tournament with five points from two games. Italian sides Roma and Inter Milan trail the English club with three points apiece. Roma leads Inter by virtue of winning a game in regular time. Inter has tied both games they have played in regular time, having won once and lost once in penalty kick shootouts. Real Madrid, the defending champions of the International Champions Cup, sit bottom of Group A with only one point from their two games.
Real Madrid was all over Roma early, with Luka Modric, Gareth Bale and Isco combining in the final third on numerous occasions. The Spanish side outshot Roma 17-7 in the match, and had a 5-2 advantage in shots on goal. Madrid was unable to break down the Italian defense though, as they had no true natural striker on the field to be the focal point of their attack. Roma had their all-time leading scorer for the club on the field, and it was the 37-year-old Italian striker who stole the show. Totti is a life-long Roma player, and captain of the Giallorossi, with over 561 appearances for the club and over 235 goals. His goal against Real Madrid was a sublime finish, and was characteristic of the Roma man stepping up his game for his beloved club when they needed him most.
The passage of play leading to the lone goal of the game started with Belgium midfielder Radja Nainggolan passing the ball square to midfield destroyer Seydou Keita. The former Barcelona man from Mali then played a searching through ball towards Totti. The Roma captain dummied the pass, letting it run between his legs to Allessandro Florenzi, who was streaking down the right wing. The Italian playmaker then found Totti in the box. The life-long Roma player had peeled off his defender, found space for himself in the penalty area, and finished the shot one-time with a volley into the far corner of the net. Totti’s goal gave Roma the lead 1-0, and the Italian side was able to hold off Real Madrid’s attempts at an equalizer to get their first victory in the International Champions Cup.
Later in the game there were a series of embarrassing incidents in which a number of passionate fans repeatedly ran onto the field. The pitch invasions began in the 87th minute and Yahoo! Sports reports that over 20 individuals disrupted play in the game. One fan even wore a Palestinian flag, possibly as a political statement in reference to the continued unrest between Palestine and Israel. The game continued in the 90th minute after security personnel subdued many of the young fans. There was an additional five minutes of extra time added on to the end of the match. Speaking to reporters after the game, Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti said that there is “a lot of support here in America for our players,” but it is “better to play an entire game without suspension.”
There was also an incident before the match between former Barcelona man Seydou Keita and Real Madrid defender Pepe. Keita played for Barcelona for four years, and in 2011, during one of many El Clasico encounters between the two Spanish giants, he accused Pepe of calling him a monkey. It seems neither player has forgotten about their bad blood. In Tuesday’s game at the International Champions Cup, Keita refused to shake Pep’s hand before the match and then tossed a water bottle at the Portuguese man’s head. The fourth official claims that Pepe responded by spitting on the 34-year-old Malian, who just recently joined Roma. The water bottle incident was caught on video, but the allegations that Pepe spat on Keita were not recorded. As it was a preseason friendly, neither player received a card, but match officials could review the incident later to determine if either player’s actions warrant punishment.
The group stages of the International Champions Cup will end on Saturday August 2, with all eight teams playing. A.S. Roma will play Italian rival’s Inter Milan in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. If Roma beat Inter and Real Madrid are able to defeat Manchester United in Ann Arbor, Michigan, then the Giallorossi will advance to the championship game in Miami. If Manchester United win or draw, then they will play in Miami on August 4 against the winner of Group B. Roma and Totti will hope this 1-0 upset of Real Madrid will encourage the Giallorossi to continue their winning ways in the International Champions Cup, and with a little luck from Madrid, earn their right to play in the finals.
Commentary by B. Taylor Rash