Some played 20 minutes. Some played a half. Some went off, then came back on again. Some even played for both teams! Florent Malouda, recently fired via Twitter by FC Zurich, played the whole game and still looked close to match fit at age 39. (Tiago and Juliano Belletti also did so for Chelsea.)
It was the annual Corazón Classic charity match at the Santiago Bernabeu, and facing the Chelsea Legends were the hosts Real Madrid, featuring the likes of Raul, Guti, Fernando Morientes, Christian Karembeu, and even Ricardo Carvalho and Claude Makélélé, both of whom then switched sides after 25 minutes of the 80-minute match in front of 60,000 at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Real strode out to a 3-0 lead inside of 20 minutes despite Carlo Cudicini’s best efforts in goal, but a Shevchenko penalty and a classic Poyet header got Chelsea back into the contest. Christian Karembeu then produced a long bomb to make it 4-2 at half, after a couple big misses from the Blues, including a crossbar from the lesser spotted Celestine Babayaro. I guess we’ll never know if he would’ve done his trademark backflip celebration if that had gone in.
Chelsea’s second-half comeback attempt was quickly stifled as well when Claude Makélélé got a bit overenthusiastic and conceded a penalty that Raul converted. William Gallas had gotten Chelsea back to within one five minutes prior by getting on the end of a lovely flowing move.
There was plenty of time still left in the game, but after 8 goals in 50 minutes, there was only 1 in the final 30, courtesy of Florent Malouda, who smashed one in at the near post with his weaker foot. It was ten years ago this season that FloMo was practically unstoppable and Carlo’s Chelsea set a Premier League record for goals scored (since broken by Manchester City).
The goals may have dried up in the second half, but the legends just kept arriving. Hilário replaced Cudicini and had himself a good ol’ time. Chelsea coach Tore Andre Flo replaced Shevchenko, who later replaced Guy Poyet, who then replaced Dennis Wise, who had replaced Frank Sinclair. Phew! Flo himself was then replaced by Legends player-manager Gianfranco Zola.
It was all in good fun of course.
While Real Madrid have done this legends charity match for ten years in a row, Chelsea’s budding Legends outfit is starting to make regular appearances after last summer’s match against Inter Forever. This is something we can surely all get behind, to see our past heroes still lace up their boots and put on a show.
You can see highlights of the game embedded above, but if you have the time, you can re-watch the entire game, embedded blow, courtesy of Real Madrid’s YouTube channel!
CHELSEA LEGENDS (3-5-2):
Cudicini | Gallas, Desailly, Sinclair | Babayaro, Newton, Poyet, Tiago, Belletti | Malouda, Shevchenko
Substitutes used: Makélélé, Carvalho, Wise, Granville, Flo, Zola, Hilário
REAL MADRID LEGENDS (4-3-3):
Cesar | Amavisca, Fernando Sanz, Carvalho, Arbeloa | Karembeu, Makélélé, Guti | Raul, Morientes, Baptista
Substitutes used: Contreras, Nuñez, Hierro, Rivera, Llorente, Balboa, Alfonso, Congo, Iván Campo, Víctor