Real Madrid 3-2 Milan: Tomori and Romero score but Rossoneri let lead slip

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan let a two-goal lead slip in the opening game of their Soccer Champions Tour campaign, losing 3-2 to Real Madrid at the Rose Bowl in California.

It was ultimately a tale of two halves for Milan as they went in 2-0 up at the break thanks to Fikayo Tomori’s header from a corner and a wonder strike from Luka Romero.

A quickfire brace from Federico Valverde just before the hour mark – both of which were ultimately gifts coming from mistakes – brought the LaLiga side level, before Vinicius Jr. won it inside the final 10 minutes.

Result aside, it was nonetheless a useful runout for Stefano Pioli’s men on the west side of the United States as some of the returning internationals got minutes in their legs.

Given that Milan’s internationals were not available to start – having just returned to training – Pioli named a starting line-up that likely wouldn’t be his first choice, including the likes of Marco Sportiello, Jan-Carlo Simic, Alessandro Florenzi, Tommaso Pobega, Junior Messias and Lorenzo Colombo.

The first real half-chance of the game went to the designated home side for the evening as Valverde fizzed a low shot just wide of Sportiello’s left-hand post with the goalkeeper seemingly beaten.

It became very apparent from the opening exchanges that the vast majority of the 100,000 fans present were supporting Real Madrid, with Milan players jeered every time they got the ball.

Milan’s first flash of danger came in the 17th minute when some smart pressing work saw Mendy gift possession to Colombo, who fired just over the bar from the edge of the box with a fierce effort.

There was a moment of worry not long after when Ruben Loftus-Cheek collapsed in a heap after what looked like a foul, holding the back of his ankle, but he was able to continue.

Shortly after Kroos had seen an effort fly just wide, Milan took the lead through Fikayo Tomori. A lovely whipped corner from Christian Pulisic on the left flank met the head of the Englishman who glanced it inside the far post.

It was almost 2-0 not long after as Loftus-Cheek picked up possession and ran through Real in transition, with the ball finding its way to Junior Messias who curled a shot just wide and over the top corner.

Just after the half-hour mark Messias went down holding his hip and the decision was made by Pioli to withdraw him from the action, as summer signing Luka Romero took his place.

Primavera centre-back Simic was given the start because Matteo Gabbia is close to joining Villarreal, and he produced a fantastic block to deny Militao’s volley inside the box.

Romero’s first real impact was something quite incredible. Three minutes before the break Krunic did excellently to win the ball back high up the field, and a nice one-two then saw the Argentine winger unleash a shot that sailed into the top corner past Lunin.

Real Madrid made eight changes at the break and brought on some of their heavy artillery, with the likes of Vinicius Jr., Rodrygo, Modric, Tchouameni, Alaba and Rudiger coming on.

Sportiello made a brilliant save to retain the two-goal lead after Vinicius went on a weaving run inside the box where he glided past Tomori and shot with the outside of his boot.

However, what followed a couple of minutes later was a gift. Valverde let fly from distance again and though the ball took a slight deflection it ultimately went straight through Sportiello when he should have made a routine stop.

Less than two minutes later, Real Madrid were level. A cheap giveaway from Tomori deep in his own half saw Valverde stride onto it and this time find the bottom corner with a thunderous strike.

With just over 20 minutes left, Pioli made 10 changes. Maignan, Theo Hernandez, Kjaer, Thiaw, Saelemaekers, Reijnders, Adli, De Ketelaere, Leao and Giroud came on. Sportiello, Calabria, Florenzi, Simic, Tomori, Krunic, Pobega, Loftus-Cheek, Pulisic and Colombo went off.

Oliver Giroud almost got Milan back into the lead with his first involvement of the game. Rafael Leao picked up possession on the left wing and whipped in a perfect cross for the Frenchman, whose glanced header was well stopped by Lunin.

Leao was electric in his cameo and nearly created a goal with one of his usual devastating darts down the left. He beat his man to the byline and set up Tijjani Reijnders whose shot was blocked, and Romero fired wide from the rebound when he should have done better.

The final chance of the game came from a free-kick around 25 yards out that Giroud took, and he was not far away from nestling it into the top right corner with Lunin well beaten.

Next up for Milan is a game against Juventus which will be played at the Dignity Health Sports Park in the early hours of Friday morning.

Tags AC Milan Real Madrid Milan


    1. So RM can only win by a goal margin against a Serie B team which doesn’t even have full squad at disposal?

  1. I dunno. After Chukwueze I think we need a striker and…. a CENTER BACK, more than we need another midfielder. Nevermind Musah and get another starter quality CB. Kjaer is looking every bit his 34 years. After Tomori and Thiaw we don’t have much quality in that position…

    1. Who allows a paceless Kaer to faceoff against a speedster Vinicious ? It was a wrong fit by both Pioli and Malik. The total midfield overhaul didn’t do much good cus they have not played together. But there were some glimpse of good play

  2. Good game for the lads, I’d say poor game management from Pioli but it’s can be taken with a pinch of salt. Adli had a nice game, Romero was good and has good work rate too. CDK is lacking awareness and maybe a sense of urgency I think he should be loaned out to gain confidence and experience staying back at this team won’t do him any good. I hope Pioli integrates this new set of midfields step by step so there can be all round synergy. I could see some of our last season flaws in attack today, I hope okafor gets to be starting henceforth. Messias should not have travelled with this team. In the end the game was fair and square, we must accept that Kaer best days are over. To the exception of a few errors, it was a nice game. Forza Milan

  3. Romero in his first game for Milan already did more than CDK did all of last season. LOL!!! RLC looked better than I thought, as did Pulisic. CDK, Messias, Alexis all dead space.

    1. Agree. CDK made poor decisions or held onto the ball too long.

      All new guys played well, reijnders didn’t do much. Saelemaekers got destroyed by vincius.. All in all not bad from the new, our regular performers played like usual and the saelemaekers, messias, CDK played below par like usual.

      Pulisic impressed the most if he we still play a 4 2 3 1 then I’d like to see him in the middle with leao and chukwueze flanking. Adli looks interesting in that 2 as well

      1. Reijnders didn’t copy with the team that much he had little time with the team even pioli had no any expectations from him apart from his experience for CDK I suggest he need time to improve his game and that Will be difficult in milan so he need to be loaned in serie A team I prefer Atalanta or torino

  4. We SHOULD’ve sold Tomori instead of Tonali. PERIOD.

    AND Pioli…. Not sure what went through his head, but WHY THE F*UCK where you waiting till 70 mins for making changes? It’s a f*cking preseason and give everyone at least 45 mins to get their game form back. It should be a no brainer. Learn from Ancelotti. Look at how Carlo brought in the big guns at 45 mins.

    The team is good, what’s holding us back is Pioli and well, Tomori’s unreal blunders. If the changes were made at 45 min, we would’ve won and our starting players would’ve gotten some MUCH needed gametime. And without Tomori’s blunder, Real would’ve have won.

    over all first preseason game ended with Pioli’s dumbassery. NOT A GOOD SIGN. The silver lining is, the team is so far doing great. Players seem to be at ease, enjoing themselves.

    Forza Milan.

    1. Most of the team that comes in 2nd half are those that just come back from holiday. Different from Real. They still need to get some more conditioning – that’s why they only comes at 70th minutes.

    2. Calm down. It’s a pre-season game against one of the top squads in the world. It’s the second pre-season game of the pre-season with a squad that has a bunch of new and Primavera players in it. Most of the the the players coming on late had EXTENDED SUMMERS. It wasn’t a bad performance at all.

      Two of Madrid’s goals were pure gifts. The Sportiello howlers was particularly furstrating, but match sharpness will increase. The worrying goal was the third one, where Vinicius Jr just walked past Kjaer. Fitness and match sharpness won’t improve his speed. This is what we need to worry about. Chukwueze is about to arrive for RW, so thay is being adressed. We’re thin at CB after the two starters. That’s my main takeway from last night.

  5. Overall I think we played well, unlike real madrid, we conceded due to pure avoidable mistakes (Sportiello incident, kjaer playing like a blind man etc). I think this shows we do need another CB option available as kjaer has the possibility to not cut it especially if he’s playing like that

  6. Romero looked very good.
    Leao looked very promising for the season.
    Giroud was hungry and dangerous.
    Pulisic will be very tricky for our opponents.
    RLC will be a power house in the middle.
    Thiaw look solid and comfortable.
    Simic looks promising.
    Sportiello looked good except that howler.
    Calabria held his ground.
    Theo looked decent.
    Krunic was good.

    Colombo needs to be more impactful.
    Kjaer was very bad today.
    Salamander was not great.
    Rejnders was a bit timid.
    Adli tried.
    CDK looked the same – lost
    Messias look decent but got injured.
    Florenzi needs to be more impactful.
    I expected a super save from Maignan on vini’s goal.

  7. Very good performance for most part.
    Some boneheaded mistakes in defense by the same culprits from last season. “Tatarusanu” and turnstile Tomori. Also, kjaer should only play in serie A. He is slower than a turtle.
    Very impressive outing by Krunic. RLC looked very good up until the knock. After that he looked lazy and loose on the ball. Pulisic was good at the start of the game.
    But the most impressive players were the 2 youngest. Simic and Romero.
    Simic was our best defender and Romero needs to stay and back up Chukwueze. Not just because of the goal, the kid has fight in him, grit , heart, way more than CDK, who again looked like he doesn’t belong on a football pitch.
    In the defense we need another left back to back up Theo and a RB to compete with Calabria, plus another CB if Gabbia is leaving.
    Florenzi and Kjaer should either leave or play as least as possible.
    What is the deal with Kalulu? Is he in Pioli’s dog house?
    We hold our own vs real Madrid and if we didn’t shoott ourselves in the foot we should have won the game

  8. Can’t expect much for an exhibition. Nice first half. Some positive moments some bad. For a 4-3-3 – RLC played more like a ACM often moving forward in center of pitch. Romero with a nice strike and hustle. Pls don’t play Messias ever again and swap him for Singo ASAP. Adli found a home in a 4-3-3 and if we keep him he will be useful. Pobega is the same – slow and lumbering and doesn’t do much. Pulisic was a creative spark and def had some nice moments. Sportiello was solid save for that howler. Rafa will have a monster season this year. Would like to see more or Reinjders. Rafa Theo etc… play from the start. We def need a defensive mid to do the dirty work. RLC likes to play forward and Reinjders seems that way as well – and Pobega is not good enough. Hope Musah can be that guy. Krunic is better off the bench. So we need a ball winner. It’s game one for Kajer ppl need to relax he will be just fine as a back up to Tomori/Thiaw. Get Singo we need a RB that can push forward.

  9. What’s all these meltdowns over a freaking preseason game? These games are for the boys to get up to speed, the coach to try out new ideas, etc.

    All the players did well. Some idiot is blaming Tomori. Do you understand that a CB pairing is very delicate? Expecting to start alongside Gabbia, then a Primavera kid comes along. Simic did play well, but the issue about CB pairing is, both players have to develop a telepathy. How to cover for the other if one goes forward and not having both caught out.

    Another person blamed Florenzi. Really? He was playing at left back! The real issue is the midfield which is still gelling.

    All in all, the team needs these kinds of games. They’re examinations for everyone: players, coach and management. The players have to prove they deserve to be in Milan and fight for their places on the first team.

    The coach has to prove that he know what he is doing with the players and how they impleement his ideas.

    The management have to prove that they indeed made the right decisions with these signings.

    Forza Milan!

    1. It only takes some common sense to understand the difference between losing due to Stupendously bad decisions and losing due to a weakness in the team/plan. Every teams need the second kind of games. NO TEAM needs the first Kind of games. And we had the first kind in its best.

      The latter is very useful as it pinpoints weaknesses on which you can work on and improve in later games.. but the first one has NO CURE. And Bad decisions will occur over and over again specially when it’s the coach who makes it.

      Tomori is consistently making bad decisions each game at least once, the kind that leads to an outright goal for the opponent or at least a clear threat to goal. That already costed us insanely last season against pathetic relegation level teams. And the first match against RM was alarming. Even though I want to discard it as a preseason, but the signs are bad.

      Tomori has everything to become literally the best defender in the world. But bad decision making under pressure has no cure. Same goes for Pioli. But papa makes bad decisions Specially when he is winning lol

      Pioli had the chance to try two entirely new team combinations for 45 mins each against a team like RM to get the best insight, pros and cons of each combination.. but he chose not to. For what exactly? No logic/reason explains it. That’s the whole problem of Pioli in his entire career. Dude does random things for no reason AT ALL and most of the time it backfires badly and he never Learns.

      1. Dude the rest of the team only come back from holiday, they still need more conditioning to get up to speed. That’s why they only play 20 minutes – to limit possibility of injury.

        And the main importance of this first friendly In US is too see how the players in the starting eleven play – its not bad considering there’s new player in every aspect of the team.

        Why so worked up over friendly games lol.

        1. Same applies for RM. They are also coming back from Holiday and need more conditioning and all that.. You didn’t see Carlo waiting till 70 mins to make changes.

          The point is, A good coach would know the significance of a match against good teams specially without the pressure of results. It’s the perfect playground to test your formation and starting eleven and getting players game ready. We only get four chances of it and we lost one already.

          Preseason games look useless only to those who doesn’t know how important they really are when a lot of new players are joining a team.

  10. i hope next game Pioli plays the best team from the start to build their chemistry on the pitch against “real” opponent and change to the second team at 45 or 60 mins.

  11. Oh man, I cannot believe these comments. This was our first serious preseason friendly with mix of Primavera and newcomers. Our stars just came back from holidays. They are also jet-lagged.


  12. Don’t judge from just one game, and remember this is still preseason match, and we facing Real Madrid.

    So, I think this Milan now is good enough. I agree, Pioli must improve, so all the players. But, this is good sign from this match.

    I am very sure, that this season we will more competitive, and become Serie A champion again, and for sure, this season we will not lose anymore from Inter

  13. Luke Romero wanna say that we don’t need Chuekwueze with that performance. Luka Romero ready to be Pulisic’s Backup.

    Florenzi will be Theo’s deputy, and Saelemaekers to be Calabria’s deputy.

    But at mid, the role didn’t really fit yet. Loftus-Cheeks used as mezzala to go higher than other mid, Pobega as Box-to-box, provide support in both phase, Krunic as Regista, ready to dribble from deep if opportunity arise.
    And the backup mid : CDK as mezzala, Reijnders as Box-to-box, Adli as Regista.

    I think, Pobega is perfect as Box-to-box, and Loftus-Cheeks should try to be Regista, because i love to see him dictates tempo at Chelsea. And the mezzala should Reijnders, because he is faster than Loftus-Cheeks.

  14. Simon Kjear really showed his age during the run up to that Vinicius Junior goal, he just gave up, he knew there was no point in trying to chase him.

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