20th July, 2019
Real Madrid have already left the first stage of pre-season behind after moving from Montreal to Houston where they will get their International Champions Cup campaign underway against Bayern Munich.
The Bavarians will present the first test to Zinedine Zidane‘s side who are undergoing somewhat of a revolution. Without Brahim Diaz, Zidane has 28 players at his disposal, including Karim Benzema and Mariano Diaz, though neither participated in the final session in Montreal.
Still missing the icing on the cake, as Zidane has requested Paul Pogba, as well as still working on ‘Operation Exit’, there is a lot of hope surrounding this reborn side now led from the front by Eden Hazard.
Change of system
Zidane has hinted at a change of system since the end of last season and while 4-3-3 is likely to be his preferred choice, he’ll be happy to deploy a 4-4-2 as well, particularly with Luka Jovic‘s arrival as the Serbian could accompany Benzema up top.
Physical levels under examination
Nobody doubts Gregory Dupont’s work at Madrid, and the early pre-season days have been shaped by intense physical sessions. But Bayern will be the first to test them and with Isco, Marcelo, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos ending the last campaign in a poor physical state, there’ll be pressure on them to come back better than before.
Hazard’s first minutes
Madrid can’t wait any longer. These early workouts have proven enough to show that the Belgian will be a starter from now until May, but there’s nothing better than showing it at the first available opportunity. Jovic and Ferland Mendy are also ready to go, and they’ll be keen to win Zidane over with whatever minutes they’re afforded.
Kubo and Rodrygo are the future and… maybe the present?
The latest to arrive as part of the youth-focused recruitment and Takefuso Kubohas impressed already, while Rodrygo is still more likely to work with Castilla this season.
Keylor is confident of forcing a debate
Without Luca Zidane, it remains to be seen if Andriy Lunin will finally be the third-choice goalkeeper, but Thibaut Courtois and Keylor Navas are sure to be first and second, but the Costa Rican is desperate to fight and earn his spot back.
Asensio and Vinicius to fight for the right
If Benzema is assured of his spot as no.9 and Hazard is certain to play on the left, then Marco Asensio and Vinicius Junior will be left to fight it out for the right. The Brazilian knows he has to adapt to a new role, while the Spaniard is aware that he had a poor season last year and needs to perform more than anyone this time.
Bale the enigma
The Welshman’s firm stance has forced Zidane to consider reintegrating him, and the club are adamant that he’ll have an important role to play if he stays. Madridwon’t sell unless a convincing offer comes their way, but it’s hard to see how Zidane will use him.