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Five takeaways from Real Madrid's match against Roma

Some areas are in need of improvement, but nothing to panic about.

Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

1. Gareth Bale will have an increased role. Bale came under heavy fire last season for his sometimes absent play with much of the reasoning behind this being attributed to where he was played and what he was instructed to do. Carlo Ancelotti preferred him on the right flank, but it seems that Rafa Benitez has other ideas and will give him a more central role, or will at least test it out. So far, Bale looked more involved and, despite some questionable passes, has seemed more determined in his decisions. He also covered a great deal of ground and wasn't limited to just playing through the center as he roamed to both flanks to become more accessible. There's definitely room for improvement and it remains to be seen if he'll thrive here, but it's refreshing to see him be available to receive the ball so often in good positions.

2. The defense looked... shaky. It's the first preseason game and still far too early to come to any substantial judgement, but Roma, specifically Gervinho and his well-endowed forehead, found it far too easy to create good chances on goal. Whether it was thanks to throughballs piercing the wings or any forays into the box, Roma was able to take advantage of a Madrid defense lacking support from the midfield and not knowing what to do with itself. Additionally, nearly every set piece ball found a Roma attacker and put a somewhat nervous-looking Keylor Navas on his heels. Perhaps the focus for Benitez should be on the back four and the midfield support instead of the much-publicized attack.

3. Martin Odegaard still has a long way to go. And this is perfectly fine. The youngster was given a start on the right flank and didn't do much with it. Some of this is surely down to nerves and the role he was asked to play, but he wasn't able to make an impact with the ball and his slight frame didn't offer much on defense. It's good that he's getting this experience on the tour, but a loan to a midtable club, perhaps one even a little bit lower with less competition for minutes, would do him good and should be a top priority for Real Madrid as soon as they return home. He's 16 years old, he needs time.

4. A penalty shootout is a good result. Meaningless result aside and fans being let down at the lack of goals, this game going into PKs should actually help Real Madrid. The substitutes were forced to go for goal with the score at a deadlock instead of just standing around and killing time like we saw at certain points of the first half. The match picked up in the second half, mostly through an exceptional Isco, and we were able to see what the bench could do as they chased the lead. Even with no winner, Benitez should like that this went into a shootout as it could serve as valuable penalty kick practice in front of a live crowd. The fans probably would've liked goals galore, but any chance to improve in pressure situations such as penalties, even as low pressure as this, should be welcomed. Think of it this way: if it didn't go into penalties we would've been robbed of Nacho's thunderous PK golazo

5. It was the first game of the preseason. Calm down. Stop the doom-and-gloom prognostication. It's exceedingly easy to get worked up about perceived deficiencies, weak spots and individual performances without taking all things into consideration. This is a team under a new manager who'll be experimenting on the tour to find what he likes and doesn't like. Panicking and calling for starters to be replaced by big names on the back of one preseason match is absurd. Could some things stand to improve? Of course, but things are rarely as bad or as good as they seem when it comes to preseason matches. As long as the team builds up its fitness and tactical options without picking up injuries, things should be fine.

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