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Open Thread: August 8, 2021

Our Sunday issue of the Daily Merengue!

Real Madrid Pre-Season Training Session Photo by Antonio Villalba/Real Madrid via Getty Images

The Open Thread/Daily Merengue is a place where you can discuss anything and everything related to football. Feel free to discuss the topics presented here, or start your very own discussions! The Open thread will be posted every day by one of the mods: Valyrian Steel, Felipejack, YoSnail, Ezek Ix or NeRObutBlanco.

Reiner Jesus Carvalho, Olympic Gold Medal Winner

Congratulations to Reiner (19 years) and Brazil on the win. Reiner came off the bench in minute 106 and contributed his part in the 2-1 victory. Asensio (who was subbed off at the half), Ceballos and Vallejo will be awarded the silver medal, and it was a good showing for them as well.

Real Madrid vs. AC Milan pre-season match tomorrow

Some assorted news about the club friendly:

  • The time will be 12:30 EST / 18:30 CET
  • Bale will play. Carvajal is still working his way back to fitness.
  • Benzema might be in the lineup per Robert Husby, but some sources have him out.
  • Fede Valverde is out per diarioAS; it’s not mentioned what it is, but he apparently didn’t train on Saturday.
  • Husby’s predicted lineup is: Lunin; Odriozola, Nacho, Militao, Marcelo; Ødegaard, Isco, Valverde; Vazquez, Vinicius, Benzema. We can guess Modric in for Fede if he is out.
  • One report says Alaba will play, paired with either Nacho or Militao. If so, this will be the first time he plays as a Real Madrid player.
  • Rodrygo will wear number 16. It seems to suit him well.
  • AC Milan made large strides last season under Stefano Pioli to climb out of their fall.
  • Real Madrid’s twitter posted some goals from past AC Milan meetings.

A selection from Mandis’ The Real Madrid Way

In 2013, Real Madrid hired the Italian Carlo Ancelotti. Nicknamed Carletto, Ancelotti played as a midfielder and had a successful career with Roma, captaining the team. He won four Coppa Italia honors with Roma and was part of the legendary late 1980s Milan team, with which he won two European titles in 1989 and 1990. Ancelotti was a cautious, composed, hardworking, and creative player, who was regarded as one of the best Italian midfielders of his generation. As a coach, he led Milan to two European championships in 2003 and 2007.

Ancelotti is calm and has the credibility to get stars to buy into a system. Hiring a coach who is respected for winning as a player is a nuance that some people overlook. It is important to star players that they are getting a message from a former winning elite player. Something that Florentino also learned is that he needs to consider the right coach at the right time. For example, he believes that Ancelotti may not have been the perfect coach in 2010 when Florentino felt the team needed more formalized and disciplined practices, and maybe Real Madrid would not have been set up for its run now without then-coach Jose Mourinho — we can only speculate.

Although a winner of the UEFA Champions League as a coach for Porto in 2004 and Inter Milan in 2010, Mourinho was never an elite player and never played on an elite team or in a major European soccer tournament. However, he did win the first-ever FIFA Ballon d’Or Best Coach Award in 2010 before joining Real Madrid. Mourinho is known for his tactical knowledge, for his charismatic (but very controversial) personality, for getting results, and for drawing attention to himself. In a press conference upon joining Chelsea in 2004, Mourinho said, “Please don’t call me arrogant, but I’m European champion and I think I’m a special one,” which resulted in the media dubbing him “The Special One.” Mourinho’s win percentage at Real Madrid was the highest he ever had (72 percent versus 66 percent at Chelsea and 62 percent at Inter Milan). Although a very respected and successful coach, he did not reach the level of success expected at Real Madrid (which is to win the Champions League), and it may be that his charismatic personality, lack of elite player credentials, or tendency to attract attention to himself were disadvantages in the unique Real Madrid environment. On the other hand, it could have been bad luck, and once again, one goal could have dramatically changed the narrative. [...] Florentino and others at Real Madrid are quick to point out Mourinho instilled a lot of discipline and professionalism to training, and although it didn’t go as planned for either party, he may have been the right person at the right time to get things set up for La Decima.

At the start of the 2014-2015 season, after winning La Decima, Real Madrid went on to win twenty-two games in a row with Ancelotti as coach, and at the end of 2014 held four trophies (Champions League Cup, Club World Cup, European Super Cup, and Copa del Rey). But then several key players — including James, Modric, Bale, Benzema, and Ramos — missed games due to injuries, and the team was out of sync as the usual starters adjusted to new players and tactics. Ancelotti was criticized for his players seeming tired or overused. Real Madrid finished second in La Liga, after being the leader for most of the season, and lost in the semifinals of the Champions League at the end of the season. The club started to look into whether the players were getting injured or too tired because they were fatigued from playing too much or if they were not training properly (too much or too little). In the end, the club felt that the drop-off at the end of the season was enough of a serious issue going forward that they needed the coach to be more sensitive to it. It was one of the considerations when Real Madrid fired Ancelotti and replaced him with Raphael Benitez.

Mandis, Steven G. “The Real Madrid Way: How Values Created the Most Successful Sports Team on the Planet.” Pp. 170-172. Dallas, Texas: BenBella Books Inc., 2016.