Writer: Chris Baldwin
Date:Saturday July 28 2007
The Galacticos ended up comfortable winners against the Potters at Irdning in Austria but Stoke never disgraced themselves. The match, the La Liga champions' first outing in their pre-season schedule, allowed new coach, Bernd Schuster his first chance to see some of his new squad in action and attracted interest from fans throughout Europe with the friendly shown live on RealMadrid TV.
The Potters held Real at bay for the majority of the game, but it was a goal from Raul in the first half, followed by a second half penalty from Roberto Soldado that put paid to any ideas of a Potters' upset.
Tony Pulis decided to continue with his pre-season strategy of playing Ricardo Fuller up front with Mama Sidibe in the first half, swapping with Jon Parkin and Vincent Pericard at half time. That, together with rolling subs throughout the second half, meant that only Steve Simonsen saw out the entire 90 minutes.
Real Madrid swapped all 11 players at half time which allowed slightly more fluid play from the Spanish champions.
Raul's goal came after 20 minutes when he neatly jinked past Clint Hill and avoided the incoming foot of Dominic Matteo to push the ball past Steve Simonsen into the left hand bottom corner of the net. Stoke's chances were limited, but in the first half Fuller had several good attempts on goal.
The second half saw the Potters retreat to hold their line, making chances for either side few and far between. But it was Parkin who had the best chance of the game for Stoke. Spotting the keeper, Cordina, off his line he launched an audacious 40 yard chip which although Cordina attempted to get back, the ball just clipped the top of the net. If the Beast had been another 3 yards further back it could have been all level.
With just over 10 minutes to go, the Potters suffered a body blow when a messy battle in the penalty area between Matteo, Buxton and Ivan De la Red, saw De La Red collapse in dramatic fashion. TV replays showed virtually no contact between the players but the Austrian referee instantly pointed to the spot. Steve Simonsen was then sent the wrong way by Soldado for their second goal.
A bizarre moment of the match (at least for Stoke fans watching RealMadrid TV) was the English commentator saying that Sidibe had been replaced by Sammy Bangoura. In case Stoke fans thought that Tony Pulis had had a funny turn and Bangoura had found his way to Austria, it actually turned out to be Vincent Pericard.
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Date:Saturday July 28 2007
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