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International Champions Cup: Real Madrid 1 - 3 PSG - Takeaways

Real Madrid's youth shines.

Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

1. Zidane Is Considering A Two-Striker System

Zidane employed his 1st half eleven in a 4-4-2 with Jesé and Morata up top, Isco and Lucas out wide, and Casemiro and Kovacic in a double pivot. While this isn't hard evidence that Zidane might be considering a different system, especially considering many of his starters were not even on the bench, he could have just as easily have gone with a 4-3-3. Jesé could have gone wide, leaving Morata as the lone forward up top, and Isco could have dropped back into midfield as the LCM. The fact that Zidane ignored this obvious formula and instead tried a new one, is a strong suggestion that he is looking at a 4-4-2 as a short-term solution for the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo.

2. Real Madrid's Vertical Compactness Needs Work

It's quite hard to take away anything tactically from pre-season matches, but based on how Real Madrid were weak in terms of defensive compactness last season, it's safe to say that Zidane still has some work to do regarding Real Madrid's defensive discipline. In the 1st half especially, PSG played vertical balls through Real Madrid's midfield with ease and found massive gaps of space in between the lines. This was probably exacerbated by Real Madrid's initial lack of sharpness and PSG's advantage of having already played a game, so take this observation with a pinch of salt if you want to.

3. Zidane Might Be Considering A Pressing System

Real Madrid's defensive organization probably also suffered because Zidane was practicing a pressing scheme. Morata and Jesé led it from the front, pressing all the way up to the goalkeeper. The midfield backed their forwards up well, but the defense often sat too far back, allowing PSG to bypass Real Madrid's pressure with a simple vertical pass or long ball. Like with defensive compactness, Zidane has a fair amount of work to do with pressing,

4. Marco Asensio Led A Stellar Performance By Real Madrid's Youth

Zidane entered the second half with a totally new starting eleven comprised of almost only Castilla players.

With the game pretty much wrapped up, PSG probably switched off a little bit, allowing the energy of Real Madrid's youth to take the game by the scruff of the neck and run PSG over. Asensio was the star of the show, at times appearing to be in three places at once, as he tackled, intercepted, and shot on goal over and over again.

Even more impressive than these tangible contributions was his off-the-ball movement. Benefitting from Zidane's 4-2-3-1, Asensio thrived in the hole behind Mariano, allowing him to become the glue of Real Madrid's offensive transition.

Asensio's teammates responded well to his lead, as Marcos Llorente did a solid job of trying to find him, while Odegaard drifted in from the right wing to combine with Asensio.

All of this energy and movement stunned PSG into submission, but they eventually recovered and saw out the game from the 80th minute onwards.

Bits & Pieces

Kovacic had a mixed game but Zidane shouldn't let the Croatian's turnover blind him from what Mateo can offer. Kovacic's tackle, bursting run, perfect through ball, and shot (all in one amazing move), displayed all of Kovacic's best qualities in a nutshell. Zidane has to use him more this season.

Morata showed a great willingness to run into channels and hold up the ball for his teammates. A more cohesive 4-4-2 could really make the best of Morata's classic center forward qualities in Ronaldo's absence.

It means nothing at this stage in the season, but our back-line's defending was comical.

Mariano has mad strength.

Take a deep breath doomsday prophets, the final score doesn't matter one bit.

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