Thu, Aug 02, 2007 - Page 19 News List

Hanover 96 defeat Real Madrid

GOOD RIDDANCE?The Spanish team's new coach said he was relieved the team had lost older stars and could now focus on being a force in Europe

AFP , HANOVER, GERMANY

Real Madrid's Alberto Bueno, left, shoots against Hanover 96 goalie Robert Enke during a friendly in Hanover, Germany, on Tuesday. Hanover 96 won 3-0.

PHOTO: AP

Real Madrid coach Bernd Schuster's homecoming was spoiled on Tuesday night as he lost his first game back in Germany when a weakened Real side were beaten 3-0 by Bundesliga's Hanover 96 in a friendly.

After leading 1-0 at the break in front of a crowd of 45,683 thanks to Hungarian Szabolcs Huszti's goal on the half-hour mark, Hanover wrapped up the comfortable win with second-half goals by Icelandic striker Gunnar Heidar Thorvaldsson and a Benny Lauth strike with eight minutes remaining.

It was a below-strength Real side with strikers Ruud van Nistelrooy and Brazilian Robinho -- who was impressive in the Copa America -- nowhere to be seen.

Hanover will open their Bundesliga campaign against Hamburg on August 11.

Meanwhile, Schuster expressed relief on Tuesday the Spanish giants have lost their star players -- Los Galacticos -- and can concentrate on being a European force again.

The 47-year-old German took over as Real Madrid coach last month and has been busy making changes behind the scenes now that Real have waved goodbye to star players such as England's David Beckham, France's Zinedine Zidane and Brazil's Ronaldo.

Despite a side boasting some of Europe's best soccer players, Real went three seasons without winning the Spanish title before Schuster's predecessor, Italian Fabio Capello, guided them to top spot last season -- though he was sacked shortly afterwards.

The German is keen to build on that and has made no-nonsense changes behind the scenes, including checking players' diets and insisting senior players room with younger ones on the road.

"Defeat is not something often seen at Real," Schuster told German magazine Sports-Bild.

"The club is swarming with world-class players. Nevertheless the Galacticos like David Beckham, Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo have gone -- thank God," he said.

"I have felt in conversations with key people that the side's high-profile reputation hindered them, so I am glad a sense of normality has returned, as well it should be," he said.

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