Real Madrid are improving as the preseason continues. Following the last two matches, the team is showing signs that the ghosts of the past season are slowly going away.
The lack of high profile signings isn’t negative right now, as the substitutes have shown a level on par with the starting eleven. In the last leg of their Chinese tour, they will be facing AC Milan with the hopes of winning their second summer tournament in a row.
Preferred Formation: 4-2-3-1
While they’ve only played 270 minutes, the philosophy of Rafa Benítez is being internalized well by the squad. Working as a whole rather than each going their own way, this system’s only flaw at the moment is the high number of chances they allow their rivals. When the opponents become Barcelona, Atlético or other complicated ones, this defect can make a huge difference.
GK: Kiko Casilla
The newest transfer made a good debut on Monday, showing off his fine skills in aerial balls, something that’s been lacking greatly for years at the Bernabéu. It’s time to see him play from the start.
RB: Dani Carvajal
In the spirit of keeping a good balance, the Spanish will start this one and Danilo will come in later. His attacking mentality is being changed to a more defensive one, as Rafa prefers to have a solid foundation in the back.
CB: Raphaël Varane
Similar to Carvajal and Danilo’s situation, it’s time for Varane to start another match. Soon the team will return to Madrid and the season will start. He only has a few opportunities left to beat Pepe.
CB: Sergio Ramos
The Chinese tour has been very good to him, and not in the football sense. After a summer full of rumors and controversies, it seems Pérez and him have found harmony. He will renew with Real and stay as the club captain.
Coentrão’s absence in the tour is forcing Marcelo to play a bit more. That’s not entirely bad, but the Brazilian can’t be the only good alternative throughout the season. A signing should be a priority.
He trained with his teammates, yet he suffered a minor injury this week. Just to be safe, he’ll probably won’t be used and Casemiro will get another chance. The former Porto man did well against Inter.
LCM: Toni Kroos
The German is moving further back in the field under Benítez, as the weight of the attack is left to those in the front. Casemiro is a good partner for him, opening up some room for rotations this year.
RW: James Rodríguez
He came in late on Monday, but he sure astounded everyone with a beauty of a goal. He’s only been training for a few days and it’s risky to put so much pressure so fast. However, he’s very popular amongst the Chinese fans and he has to play.
CAM: Gareth Bale
He’s changing positions often as the match goes on, still his starting point is the center. His involvement in the plays is much bigger and it’s giving the attack a new functionality that can become a huge boost.
LW: Cristiano Ronaldo
The Portuguese isn’t the only man the team relies on anymore, as the form of the other attackers is good enough to stop the CR7 dependence. This variety will give the coach the possibility of resting the top players more frequently.
ST: Jesé Rodríguez
Prior to his important injury in March 2014, he was turning into a promising player. Once he recovered we didn’t see that level again. Nevertheless, his preseason has been full of good vibrations.