I just watched Real Madrid versus Mallorca at Mad Dog in the Fog in San Francisco. About twenty or so people dotted around the bar. Gol TV had the game, and showed split screens now and again when Barcelona or Sevilla scored or were scored on. Barca whipped up on Gimnastic 5-1. Messi scoring and Rondalinho nailing a free kick.
But the focus was all on Madrid, well and the annoucer's wit and a few stars in the stands. Ray Hudson was one of the announcers for the game. He was hilarious and passionate. Calling the Madrid players bull fighters and chastising the other announcer whenever he mentioned Rafael Nadal (his father player for Barcelona) or Tom Cruise (don't know what sport he played but I'm sure his kids will now play soccer) and wife Katie Holmes who watched from the stands. The camera shot over to the stars throughout the game. Cruise is good friends with Beckham and Katie with Posh. The Beckham's bought a home near Tom in Los Angeles. Back to football...
Madrid gave away an early goal and the pressure mounted. They had a few chances in the early stages but their crosses where a bit off or shots just over. Ruud went down with a hamstring injury and had to come off. That appeared to stifle Madrid for a while. Barca were giddy as they sensed a third consecutive title. However, for Madrid, the more Ronbinho got the ball on his foot the better they were. At times, in the beginning of the game, they forced the ball to him but things started to flow with a few changes. One of those was Beckham, he came off with about twenty to play, and things seemed likely to end sadly for the Beckham clan. Then, Ronbinho and Hiquain did their magic and Reyes the substitue smartly finished off the play. Hiquain neatly touched the ball down the line and turned tightly along the touch line to lay the ball back to Reyes. Later, off a corner kick, Mahamadou Diarra (from Mali) knodded hom the winner and Reyes again finsihed off a sequence by Raul as ensured the championship for Real Madrid.
Mallorca fought the whole way but Madrid matched their fight and more. Guti was another subsitute that added some extra bite but I think Ronbinho and Casillas were the gamers today--though the whole Madrid team remained tough in the tackle and battled to the end. It was such a relief for Madrid. I can't imagine all the pressure they must feel at times. But that's where all the joy comes from. And Capello, the leader of this team, must have instilled a determination and fight that was new to this club.
"A major fault of mine this season was not recognizing Beckham's potential," Capello said Sunday.