Sunday brought us the first glimpse of Carlo Ancelotti’s new Real Madrid side and it was a disappointing evening for the Spanish club, as they lost 2-1 away at Scottish champions Rangers. More than the scoreline, it was the overall performance that was concerning as Los Blancos were dominated from start to finish. There’s a lot to discuss, so here are three questions we had going in to the game and three more that we have now.
1. What formation would Real Madrid set up in?
With just nine senior players in the travelling squad, Carlo Ancelotti’s line-up was never going to tell us much. The coach had to pick who he had, so there’s almost nothing we can glean from this player starting or that player starting. But, the formation was always going to be more interesting. What shape would Ancelotti go for? Would he go for the 4-3-3 that he brought in at Real Madrid back in 2013? Well yes, that’s what he did. It was a 4-3-3 at the start of this match, which is interesting for a number of reasons. It’s just one match, but it’s interesting that this is the way Ancelotti set up his team in the first open-to-the-public friendly of the summer.
2. How much fitter would Rangers be?
Rangers are far deeper into their pre-season preparations than Real Madrid, with their first league match coming up next weekend and with their Champions League qualification campaign just around the corner too. This, by contrast, was Real Madrid’s first proper pre-season friendly, so Rangers were far less rusty and far fitter too. That’s normal when there’s a meeting between two teams at different phases of their pre-season preparations. But, the difference in energy levels was grand. Perhaps bigger than was to be expected.
3. What would it be like to see Real Madrid play in front of fans?
This was Real Madrid’s first match in front of a crowd since they went away to Real Betis on March 8th 2020. Then, the world completely changed. They haven’t played in front of a crowd since then, but there were approximately 12,000 fans in Ibrox for this one. That was nice to see. We even saw Marcelo interacting and smiling with some fans. We’ve missed that. It’s been too long.
1. What will Rodrygo’s role be under Ancelotti?
It happens every summer. A Real Madrid winger has a good game or scores a goal in a pre-season match and fans get very excited and start predicting double digit goals tallies. But, it’s interesting to see who that player will be each summer. This year, it could be Rodrygo. Mostly because he’s there and playing in these pre-season games, whereas Marco Asensio is at the Olympics and Vinícius is still on a break after reaching the Copa América final. Rodrygo did very well to score the opening goal of this friendly, while he had some other nice moments in the match too. He’ll turn 21 in January, so this is a big season for the Brazilian. We’ve seen how high his highs can be. Let’s see if he can develop some consistency in 2021/22.
2. How do you get sent off in a friendly?
Oh, Nacho… How do you get sent off in a friendly? Well, he picked up a clumsy yellow card in the first half and then earned a second for a very poor – especially for a friendly – challenge on Glen Kamara. That’s not a major concern, but it’s not a great start to what should be a very important 2021/22 season for Nacho as he looks to step up and play more minutes than ever after the exits of Sergio Ramos and, probably, Raphaël Varane.
3. How will Ancelotti use Miguel Gutiérrez and Marcelo?
Miguel Gutiérrez came off the bench in this game, but not to replace Marcelo. Instead, the academy graduate went to left-back and played behind the Brazilian as the captain moved to left wing. With the two players together on the same flank, one stood out over the other and it wasn’t the Brazilian. Marcelo did assist a Miguel Gutiérrez shot that rebounded off the post, but it was striking how much better the young Spaniard was. So, what happens with him this season, considering Real Madrid have Ferland Mendy too? And does Miguel Gutiérrez even get a place in the first-team squad? Well, he probably won’t be registered as a senior player, in order to keep more spots available for others, but I think we’ll see Miguel Gutiérrez used a lot by Ancelotti.