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Three answers and three questions from Real Madrid’s pre-season defeat to Juventus

Now that all four friendlies have been played, it’s time to evaluate the pre-season.

Juventus v Real Madrid - Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Helios de la Rubia/Real Madrid via Getty Images

Real Madrid completed their pre-season in Orlando with a 3-1 defeat against Juventus, meaning they end their US tour with two wins in the opening couple of games and then a pair of defeats from the last two friendlies. There is definitely quite a mix of positives and negatives, so let’s take a look at three answers and three questions from the final match and the tour in general.

Three answers

1. Would Real Madrid have more luck in attack than in El Clásico?

Real Madrid may have lost the Clásico 3-0 on Saturday, but there wasn’t too much panic given that Los Blancos had hit the woodwork five times. Carlo Ancelotti said he’d never seen anything like that before, in all his years of football. So, was that just a fluke and would Real Madrid have better luck in front of goal against Juventus? Well, no. They hit the woodwork twice against the Italians too, and lost 3-1. Against Barcelona, Real Madrid had 29 shots to Barça’s 12. Against Juventus, they had 34 shots to Juve’s 11. Despite dominating in that aspect twice in a row, Real Madrid have lost both times. Maybe it’s not luck. Maybe there really is a problem with the finishing.

2. How would Modrić and Kroos do together?

Luka Modrić and Toni Kroos started together in this game, which was a rare sight for this pre-season tour. They hadn’t started together in any of the other three friendlies, playing just 48 total minutes together on this tour, with their lack of minutes together being a real trend of this pre-season. So, how would they do together? Well, not great. Real Madrid have had issues in defence throughout this tour, so it would be harsh to pin tonight’s problems on the two veteran midfielders, but they certainly didn’t provide much on the back end in this one. It does seem, though, that Modrić and Kroos aren’t going to both play at the same time as much as they did last season. We’ll soon see if that really is the case.

3. How would Fran García do in his final test before Athletic Club?

With it confirmed that Ferland Mendy will miss the start of the new season with injury, that means we’re set to have Fran García starting at left-back in Matchday 1 of the new LaLiga campaign when Real Madrid visit Athletic Club on August 12th. So, all eyes were on the young Spaniard to see how he’d do here. And, the truth is that he was excellent, one of Real Madrid’s best players. His crossing is so good, while he was always back on defence when he had to be, often marking his man and someone else’s too. He played 78 minutes, before being taken off to avoid any injury risks of his own. His official debut is now just over a week away.

Three questions

1. What grade would you give to the pre-season as a whole?

In Carlo Ancelotti’s post-match comments, the coach gave the team a 6/10 as his grade for pre-season overall, following the two wins and then two defeats. The Italian is quite clearly unhappy with the defence and the eight goals conceded across four matches, but remained optimistic about the attack. If you had to put a number on it out of 10, what grade would you give the team?

2. What kind of season will this be for Vinícius?

With Benzema having departed, there’s no doubt about it: Vinícius is the star man at Real Madrid right now. And, unless Mbappé joins before the end of the transfer window, he will be throughout 2023/24. But, the Brazilian is being used in a different kind of role, playing more centrally for two reasons. One is the diamond, which may or may not last. And the other is the absence of Benzema, who used to be the centre of gravity in Los Blancos’ attack. It really does seem like Vini is going to have much more central – in a positional sense – role this campaign, and that is going to be fascinating. It might provide him with more chances and more goals, but might also take him away from what he’s best at, which is beating his man on the wing.

3. Will it be the diamond in Matchday 1?

When there was first talk and reports that Real Madrid were experimenting with a diamond formation, many Madridistas were excited but sceptical. They were glad that Ancelotti was trying something different, but weren’t convinced that he’d see it through. With pre-season now completed, the diamond has been quite a consistent element throughout, even if there have also been moments where other shapes were used. So, now it’s the moment of truth. Will Ancelotti use the diamond in Matchday 1 in Bilbao? We’ll find out in nine days’ time…

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