Real and Santos Laguna at full strength for Vegas clash
Cristiano Ronaldo on his way to practice in Beverly Hills, Cal.
LAS VEGAS, Nev. ● Current Mexican club champion Santos Laguna announced their 20-player roster for the 2012 Herbalife World Football Challenge, led by captain and former Mexican international goalkeeper Oswaldo Sanchez, Panamian defender Felipe Baloy and U.S. World Cup forward and Las Vegas native Herculez Gomez.
The Mexican champions will battle Spanish champions Real Madrid this Sunday, August 5 at Sam Boyd Stadium with a kickoff of 8 pm PT.
Real Madrid are winners of nine European championships and 32 Spanish La Liga titles, having secured their most recent league championship in May of this year. Their 32-2-4 record across the 2011-12 season gave them a league-best 100 points, and their 121 goals scored were a league record.
Real Madrid’s offense, which has averaged 2.93 goals per league-game under head coach Jose Mourinho, is led by Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored a team-high 64 goals in all competitions last season.
A former FIFA World Payer of the Year winner, Ronaldo is joined up front by Frenchmen Karim Benzema and Argentine Gonzalo Higuain, who have each scored more than 20 goals in La Liga the past two seasons.
That trio is supported by a midfield that features World Cup and Euro champion Xabi Alonso, 2007 FIFA Player of the Year winner Kaka, Argentine winger Angel Di Maria and the German duo of Sami Khedira and Mesut Özil.
Along with their wealth of attacking talent, Madrid also boast one of the best defenses in the world with World Cup champion and club captain Iker Casillas leading the way in goal for Mourinho’s squad. In front of him, Sergio Ramos, who was a member of Spain’s squads that captured the 2010 World Cup and the 2008 and 2012 Euro championships, marshals a back four that also features Portuguese internationals Fabio Coentrão and Pepe as well as Spanish internationals Raúl Albiol and Alvaro Arbeloa.
Led by head coach Benjamin Galindo, Santos Laguna recently won the Clausura tournament of the Primera Division and over the past decade has become one of Mexico’s most successful teams. The Guerreros (Warriors), as they are also known, have obtained four league championships (1996, 2001, 2008, and 2012) and have played in four of the last five league finals.
Sanchez stands as one of the most experienced goalkeepers in the world, with 100 caps for the Mexican National Team, including three FIFA World Cups (1998, 2002, 2006) before retiring from international duty in 2011. The Santos defense is further bolstered by Felipe Baloy, current captain of the Panama National Team with more than 70 caps.
At the other end of the pitch, Gomez has become a revelation for the club since joining, having scored 11 goals in his first 12 appearances for the team across all competitions. With Santos’ May 2012 league title, Gomez became the first player to have won both the MLS Cup (which he did with the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2005) and the Primera División championship. The 5’10” striker, who was raised in the Las Vegas area and attended Las Vegas High School, has also made his mark on the interational level as a member of the 2010 U.S. World Cup team.
Goalkeepers (2): Oswaldo Sanchez, Miguel Becerra
Defenders (7): Jorge Ivan Estrada, Rafael Figueroa, Felipe Baloy, Aaron Galindo, Osmar Mares, Oswaldo Alanis, Cesar Ibanez
Midfielders (7): Rodolfo Salinas, Juan Pablo Rodriguez, Edgar Lugo, Marc Crosas, Daniel Ludueña, Cándido Ramírez, Carlos Parra
Forwards (4): Herculez Gomez, Carlos Quintero, Christian Suarez, Jesús Alonso Escoboza
Head Coach: Benjamin Galindo
Goalkeepers (3): Iker Casillas, Antonio Adán, Jesus Fernandez Collado
Defenders (7): Raul Albiol, Alvaro Arbeola, Fabio Coentrão, Jose Nacho Fernández, Pepe, Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane
Midfielders (11): Xabi Alonso, Jose Maria Callejon, Angel Di Maria, Lass Diarra, Alex Fernandez, Esteban Granero, Kaka, Sami Khedira, Mesut Özil, Jese Rodriguez, Nuri Sahin
Forwards (4): Karim Benzema, Gonzalo Higuain, Alvaro Morata, Cristiano Ronaldo
Head Coach: José Mourinho