After an incredible season, the Madridismo faithful have even higher hopes for Ancelotti’s second year at the helm. With the signings of Kroos, James and Navas, it truly does look like Ancelotti’s men have somehow strengthened an already stellar squad.
Pertaining to tradition, Real Madrid crossed the Atlantic and began their pre-season in the United States. Coming into this year’s pre-season, Real Madrid had not lost a game on American soil since 2002. That record however, has now been broken as Ancelotti’s men lost all three games in succession. A defeat in a penalty shootout against Inter was followed by a 1-0 and 3-1 loss to Roma and Manchester United respectively. Here are some things Ancelotti can take away from what has been a below par trip.
Carvajal Can Play Further Forward
In the absence of his more experienced wingers, Ancelotti opted to try Carvajal as a right winger against United. In the two previous games, Lucas occupied the position. The youngster did a fine job getting forward but lacked the discipline to track back.
Last season, we all saw the offensive potency of Carvajal; so when Ancelotti announced the line-up many were interested in seeing how the cantero would perform in a more offensive role. For the most part Carvajal had a pretty solid game. His decision making in the final third was often flawed as you would expect from a natural defender, but besides that he showed potential. His raw speed, technique on the ball and crossing ability makes him a great option for Ancelotti to use if needed.
Isco Should Play Deeper
Before travelling state-side, Ancelotti knew that he had no recognized strikers available. With Morata sealing a switch to Juventus and Benzema resting after the World Cup, Ancelotti opted to once again try Isco as a false-nine.
The ex-Malaga man was asked to play as a false nine quite a few times last season. It’s not that he can’t do it well, it’s just not what Real Madrid need. For another team perhaps, it would work quite well. Isco likes to drop slightly deeper and create chances for the wingers and over-lapping midfielders. This adds a whole new creative dynamic for the side. But creating chances hasn’t been Real’s main concern, it’s been finishing chances. Even more so with the signings of Kroos and James, Real will hardly have any trouble in the creative department.
Despite being played out of position, Isco did show us his magical abilities on more than one occasion. Many are claiming his days at Real Madrid are numbered, but if he plays deeper, he might have a significant impact this season.
This Could Be Arbeloa’s Last Season
At the end of last season, Alvaro Arbeloa drew the curtain on a rather successful international career. While watching both him and Carvajal last season and this pre-season, it has become clear that Arbeloa might be nearing the end of his club career as well.
When playing United, Arbeloa was stretched all over the place by Ashley Young. Despite rumors of a possible move to Napoli, there hasn’t been much talk about Arbeloa’s future with the club. With his contract set to expire in 2016, this might be Arbeloa’s last season in the all white strip. Although he will be determined to see out his contract, Real Madrid might be tempted to cash in on the aging right-back.
A Defensive Midfielder Is Needed
If anything has been exemplified this pre-season, it’s Real Madrid’s frailty at the back. Pepe and Ramos’s lack of match fitness has shown us that Real Madrid have a serious lack of defensive midfielders. Both Xabi and Illarra can pull defensive shifts but shouldn’t be expected to guard a back-line on their own.
What makes this even more freighting for Madridistas is the fact that Khedira might leave the club this summer. There have been talks of a contract renewal, but if an agreement cannot be made, Khedira will either walk out of the club for free next summer or be sold in the coming weeks. In this case, reports are suggesting that Real Madrid will try to sign Luis Gustavo. Whether it’s to keep Khedira or to sign Gustavo, Real Madrid can’t go into the new season without an established defensive midfielder.
This Is Bale’s Year
Upon signing for Real Madrid last summer, many predicted the Welshman will not reach his peak in his debut season. And after an incredible first year, the same people are now wondering if he can possibly improve.
Well the answer is a resounding YES. With a full pre-season and a long vacation, Bale looks ready to set the Bernabeu on fire. He has been the only real positive of Real Madrid’s US tour. With Cristiano’s constant injury concerns, this could be the season that we see the Welshman eclipse his Portuguese teammate.
Bale is not a prolific goalscorer like CR7 but rather a joint contributor of both goals and assists. Looking at early indicators, Bale could be the one to break the duopoly of Messi and Ronaldo.