Real Madrid will officially kick off their pre-season friendlies with Sunday’s El Clasico against Barcelona. The signings of Aurelien Tchouameni and Antonio Rudiger have added a lot of depth to the team’s squad, so here are the three things that fans need to pay attention to during the pre-season games.
- What’s Real Madrid’s defensive line? Granted, Ancelotti has been given the opportunity to change his defenders depending on matchups and fitness, but who will be the undisputed starters if everyone is available? Will Alaba move to the left-back spot so that Rudiger and Militao take care of the center of the line while Mendy goes to the bench? Will Militao be a backup for both Rudiger and Alaba from now on so that Mendy keeps starting? Could Alaba be the one dropped? Ancelotti will likely try all of those combinations this pre-season, but word from Real Madrid’s camp indicates that right now it looks like Rudiger and Militao will play center-back with Alaba as the left-back, making Mendy a super-sub.
- Can Rodrygo become an undisputed starter on the right wing or will Ancelotti deploy Valverde there more often? Nobody expected to have this kind of argument as Mbappe was projected to start on that spot, but the Frenchman decided to stay and now Rodrygo has to deliver and prove that he’s ready to perform on a consistent basis. If he doesn’t Ancelotti will likely start Valverde in that role, even if that could ultimately hurt the team’s offensive production against smaller opponents.
- Will Tchouameni compete with Casemiro for the starting spot? Real Madrid spent €80 million to sign Tchouameni away from Monaco and that means that the young midfielder shouldn’t be a bench player after a few months. He’s a different player from Casemiro, but the defensive-midfielder spot is the one that suits him best in Madrid’s classic 4-3-3. Unless Ancelotti is willing to change his formation, Tchouameni and Casemiro will likely compete for the starting spot all season long. Can the Frenchman win that battle and make a statement during the pre-season knowing that it usually takes Casemiro a few months to reach his best form?