1. Real Madrid's 4-4-2 Is A Bit Flat
It's still hard to make too many meaningful conclusions with so many of Real Madrid's 1st team players missing, but it is obvious that Real Madrid's attacking build-up in Zidane's 4-4-2 is too flat. The lack of 1st team personnel in the side definitely contributed to this, but a lack of appropriate coordination and off-the-ball movement from the team was also a culprit. Again, with so many new players in the line-up it was always going to be hard for Real Madrid to start clicking seamlessly, but it is was a bit disconcerting to see Zidane absolutely fine with Real Madrid's fullbacks and midfielders lumping long balls up the field in the hope that Morata or Mariano would create a chance from nothing. What was needed was for Morata or Mariano to drop into pockets of space so that Kovacic or Casemiro could progress play vertically through the middle. Morata did attempt this, but he often looked confused as to when he should drop off or when he should look to stretch the defensive line. Thus Real Madrid sprayed the ball wide or looped long balls over the top. Only when Kovacic dipped in between the lines did Los Blancos look more creative and dynamic.
2. Marcelo Is A Boss
Luckily none of this mattered too much as Marcelo was on fire. The Brazilian fullback seemed to sense his team's stagnation and thus varied up his movement to counter this. Popping up in every sort of unpredictable position imaginable, Marcelo single-handedly destabilized Chelsea's defense and pushed them onto the back-foot. With Real Madrid gaining control of the game, Marcelo received the ball in the left halfspace, dropped his shoulder, dipped inside, and fired a powerful deflected shot that bamboozled Begovic and slammed into the back of the net.
Not content with only one goal, Marcelo combined brilliantly with Asensio to burst into the box and score again. Only minutes later, Marcelo worked the ball up the left halfspace through a quick combination of passes before laying the ball off to Mariano who scored a screamer from distance.
A shellshocked Chelsea could only breath a sigh of relief as the man of the match was taken off early in the 2nd half.
3. Zidane Has A Tough Decision To Make Regarding Marco Asensio
If Zidane had any pre-dispositions about what to do with Asensio before the International Champions Cup, he must certainly be reconsidering them. Combined with Asensio's impressive loan spell with Espanyol, this pre-season has proved that the youngster is ready for top flight football and has the skillset to become a hit with Madrid. He can play on the flanks and as a CAM, is an impressive dribbler and mover into space, doesn't shy away from creative responsibility, and is a fantastic set-piece taker. Due to these assests, many are calling for Asensio to stay at Real Madrid this season, and Zidane must obviously be tempted see such a quality player in his depth chart. But Zidane must figure out if that is worth hampering Asensio's long-term future. With Cristiano Ronaldo a fixture in this team and the likes of James, Lucas, and Isco all ready to compete for time on the wings, it is hard to see Asensio getting more than 500 minutes at Real Madrid. As hard as it might be for fans, Zidane has to prioritize Asensio's long-term future over any short-term gain Los Blancos might receive from the starlet's presence on the bench.
4. Immense Discipline Is Needed For A High Press
Of all the improvements many were calling for this pre-season, one of the most popular was the implementation of a high press. Based on what we have seen so far, it looks like Zidane is seriously considering the implementation of said improvement at Real Madrid.
Zidane initially tried a moderate press vs. PSG, but he upped the tempo and intensity vs. Chelsea today. Morata and Mariano pressed all the way to the keeper, while Casemiro and Kovacic looked to battle their counterparts in midfield. This had its benefits, contributing to Marcelo and Real Madrid's second goal (the Brazilian won the ball himself in Chelsea's own half) whilst making build-up difficult for Chelsea in general.
However, there were also a lot of weaknesses in Real Madrid's rough system. The spaces in between Real Madrid's midfield and defense were gaping and easy to exploit, and when Zidane brought on a truckload of youth players Los Blanos were ripped apart. The high line that Zidane designed became a huge liability for his side in the second half, as Eden Hazard's pace trounced the inexperience of Castilla's defenders and exploited Yañez's indecision when playing as a sweeper keeper.
Chelsea's attempted comeback shouldn't be something to be massively worried about, but Zidane learned a valuable lesson regarding the relationship between pressing and team discipline. His system simply won't work one month from now if Real Madrid's shape is not expertly coordinated. Each player needs to be making conscious decisions in possession to set themselves up to win the ball back and to assess their position in relation to the back-line.
Zidane has quite a task ahead of him to make a regular pressing scheme a viable reality.
Bits & Pieces
Mariano is a stud.
Morata's invisible game wasn't helped by Real Madrid's average build-up, but he needs to step up his performances to prove himself to Zidane.
Real Madrid's youth prospects are impressive: Asensio, Odegaard, Febas, Llorente... the list goes on.