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Soccer Royalty in South Philly: Real Madrid Faces the Union at the Linc

Jul 23, 2011, 4:18 PM EDT

Real Madrid brings Jose Mourinho, Cristiano Ronaldo and their star-studded roster to Lincoln Financial Field to face the Philadelphia Union

They call them friendlies, which is a very European way of saying “scrimmage”. My question is – how friendly can a match possibly be when there’s a distinct possibility that one of the world’s richest/most talented clubs hangs a six spot on you? Don’t believe me? Manchester United just went into Seattle and dropped seven goals on the Sounders.

The Union face Real Madrid at the Linc tonight, where 50,000+ people are looking for the Madrileños to put on a show. The talent Madrid coach Jose Mourinho brings to town is nothing short of absurd.

The roster reads like a who’s who of FIFA royalty. Ronaldo, Casillas, Kaka, Ramos, Özil, Benzema, Alonso, Higuaín, di Maria, Carvalho, and on and on the names go. It’s truly a staggering amount of skill and pedigree.

I almost fell out of my seat during the last Champions League campaign when my squad, Tottenham Hotspur, faced Madrid in the quarterfinals. Mourinho had the gall to bring Kaka and Las Diarra (who didn’t even make the trip to the U.S.) off the bench.

It was at that point that I realized just how big a club Madrid really is. I realize Kaka hasn’t exactly been fit and in form recently, but come on. They brought Kaka, a former FIFA World Player of the Year, off the bench.

If you put together a tale of the tape for this match it’d look ridiculous, and that’s no fault of the Union. Our local squad is only in its second year in MLS. Madrid? They’ve been playing since 1902.

Trophies? The Union have won zero (again, I am not going through this exercise to disparage the Union, but to hilight the history and success of Real Madrid). Los Blancos? They’ve won 31 La Liga titles, 18 Spanish “Copa del Rey” Cups, 8 Spanish Super Cups, a record 9 UEFA Champions Leagues, 2 UEFA Cups, 1 UEFA Supercup, and 3 Intercontinental Cups.

I suppose what I am getting at is that this is not a opponent against which the Union should be measured. This is a celebration of soccer.

This is about Ronaldo executing 15 step-over’s in the blink of an eye.

This is about Mesut Özil slipping an a ball at an impossible angle behind the Union back line.

This is about the accepted best keeper in the world, Iker Casillas, patrolling his box.

Yes, it will be fascinating to see how Danny Mwanga fares against Ricardo Carvalho. Yes, it’ll be worthwhile to see how Brian Carroll deals with Madrid’s precision passing. And yes, it may very well be exhausting watching Danny Califf turn and chase Madrid’s forwards.

But, and this is a big but, all of this soccer excellence will be taking place in South Philly.

Real Madrid is playing right in our backyard. Enjoy it.

NOTE

- Real Madrid’s website reports that it is undetermined whether Xabi Alonso, Sami Khedira and Sergio Ramos will be able play. Fabio Coentrao is out tonight.

- Yes his embellishing and histrionics rub everyone the wrong way, but as this video shows, Ronaldo is ridiculous.