A so-called “training match” between Oslo football club Vålerenga and Spanish powerhouse Real Madrid all but sold out Norway’s national football stadium at Ullevaal in Oslo on Sunday, but fans didn’t get much of a show. It ended in a 0-0 tie, mostly because Real Madrid didn’t use its best players or play well.
Neither superstar Cristiano Ronaldo nor Karim Benzema took part in the match but Norwegian fans did finally get to see their own home-grown Martin Ødegaard, age 16, play for Real Madrid after his much-hyped transfer to the team last winter. Ødegaard was allowed to play for 47 minutes on Sunday and coach Rafael Benitez praised his performance afterwards. Norwegian football fans and officials have worried that Ødegaard hasn’t played much since his transfer from Strømsgodset in Drammen, but Real Madrid officials have urged them to be more patient. They have their own development plan, they claim, for the young Norwegian football talent.
Some fans and at least one Spanish journalist called the match in Oslo “boring” and suggested it was “crazy” that spectators had paid as much as NOK 1,000 (USD 125) for tickets. “Real Madrid usually plays with more fantasy and more speed,” Carlos Forjanes of AS in Spain told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). “I was disappointed. Everyone in the Spanish media agrees with me.
“Real Madrid didn’t take the game seriously,” Forjanes continued. “They didn’t think Vålerenga was good enough to play.” Vålerenga reportedly paid Real Madrid around NOK 12 million to come to Oslo for the match. That explained the high ticket prices, but Vålerenga director Stig-Ove Sandnes defended them.
“We can’t do anything about the 0-0 score,” Sandnes told NRK, “but we played against the best tream in the world.” Vålerenga coach Kjetil Rekdal agreed. “Just seeing such fantastic players has great value,” Rekdal claimed, adding that his own players “did as best as they could when we had chances.”