Real Madrid have won both of their opening pre-season games so far this year, taking down AC Milan and Manchester United in two contrasting games. However, their most daunting fixture of the US tour comes next – the pre-season Clasico against Barcelona.
If history is anything to go by, a game between the two Spanish giants can never be a friendly fight. Both sides will go all out at the AT&T Stadium on Saturday night, each hoping to outdo the other.
Carlo Ancelotti faced the press ahead of Real Madrid’s clash against Barcelona in the Clasico and began his interaction with a brief preview of the game to be played on Saturday night.
“In the two previous games we’ve played some good football and we also have some things to improve on. It’s an opportunity to get the motor warmed up,” he said.
“We’re doing well and we want to continue in the same vein. We’ll do our best, but we’re playing against a very strong opponent with a lot of quality. The result is the least important thing; the most important thing is to keep progressing. It’s a very demanding test because the opponents are very strong.”
The manager then pointed out the positive takeaways from the first two pre-season games of the USA tour and what it meant to the team, saying:
“We did well against Manchester United and we have to be consistent. It’s too early to assess what we’re going to do. We’re doing well, but then comes the season and we need to have continuity, commitment, and attitude in every match.”
Through his confirmation of the squad’s injury status ahead of El Clasico, Ancelotti all but confirmed Thibaut Courtois’s participation on the night but did not have good news for Arda Guler.
“Only Arda is out and he’ll be training at a higher intensity today. The rest are available and are going to play,” he said.
Jude Bellingham has been one of Los Blancos’ standout players from pre-season so far, scoring his first goal for the club in just his second appearance. Ancelotti praised the English prodigy and commented on his versatility during his interview.
“Everyone has their own characteristics and the playmaker of 20 years ago is a very different to the one we know today,” he said.
“The modern player gets forward more often, is physically stronger and also very skillful. He’s a very complete attacking midfielder and he’s adapting very well because his team-mates are helping him a lot.
“He can play in other positions, like inside with a 4-3-3, either on the right or on the left. There will be games where we will play with that system with a centre-forward like Joselu.”
The Italian tactician then elaborated on the formation he planned to take forward into the 2023-24 campaign and highlighted the role of the midfield in such a setup.
“Since we have the two strikers playing deeper, the playmaker will play more through the middle than on the outside. We’re going to push the full-backs further forward. Playing with a diamond formation is to have a more filtered game, with more passing from the middle,” he said.
Ahead of the season, there was mild concern about Real Madrid’s depth in the forward department. However, the coach insisted he was satisfied with the options at his disposal and praised the new arrivals.
“I think we are complete. The new players are doing very well. Brahim and Joselu have shown that they can contribute to the team offensively. I think the team has a lot of attacking options to give us chances to score goals.”
Hosting El Clasico is an accomplishment very few stadiums across the globe can boast about. The AT&T Stadium in Dallas is set to become the latest entrant on the list, and Ancelotti had only positive comments for the venue.
“The stadium is fantastic. The atmosphere is also fantastic and the weather is good. With the heat outside, it’s good for us to play a game like this on a physical level,” he said.
“The grass isn’t great, but you can play good football and the ball moves well, there’s no bounce. If we don’t play well, it’s not because of the grass.”
The Italian gaffer also commented on Eduardo Camavinga and the importance of his versatility in the team’s success. He also added a note on Aurelien Tchouameni’s role.
“He can play in every position in midfield and also at left-back. I wanted to see Tchouameni in midfield, he played both halves of the game at a very high level. That position is very well covered with Tchouameni and Camavinga.”
Speaking about how Toni Kroos and Luka Modric would adapt to teaming up with Bellingham, the manager said:
“With Bellingham we have to wait a bit to see how they adapt, but physically he helps us a lot to press up front. He can also help us put more pressure on the midfield.”
When asked about the difficulty in replacing Karim Benzema, Ancelotti did not hesitate to admit the void the Frenchman’s departure left. However, he insisted that it would not halt the team’s progress, saying:
“We have fantastic memories of Benzema and what he did here. I shall be forever grateful to him because he gave us the chance to win the Champions League.”
“Real Madrid continues and has continued without Cristiano, Bale or Casemiro. That’s why Real Madrid is loved by fans all over the world and hopefully tomorrow they can enjoy the quality of the team and its players. Hopefully we can win.”
The Italian mastermind was then quizzed about the probability of hosting a UEFA Champions League final in the United States of America in the future, to which he replied,
“We’re in a fantastic environment. Football has many sporting rivals like the NBA or the NFL. People are very fond of these sports, but the Madridistas who are here show us at all times the passion they have for Real Madrid when we arrive at the hotel and when we go out onto the pitch.”
“We’re delighted that fans far from Spain can enjoy the team. A Champions League final here could happen. The stadiums are fantastic and why not?”
The coach also gave his two cents on the rise of Saudi Arabia in the world of football and the sudden exodus of players to the Asian nation.
“Football, like the rest of the world, is going global. Arab teams are investing a lot of money and they are going to improve, like MLS. On a collective level, European football is more competitive, but in the future everything could even out.”
Finally, Ancelotti was asked about the arrival of Kylian Mbappe to Real Madrid this summer. He did not give away anything, and in fact, replied with visible frustration.
“It doesn’t bother me when you ask me about him, but I’m not going to answer,” he said.
Source: Real Madrid website
French midfielder admits considering PSG move before Real Madrid called him
Aurelien Tchouameni has had an exciting start to his career at Real Madrid. Since joining the club for almost €80 million last summer, the young Frenchman has now become a pivotal figure in Real Madrid’s midfield unit.
However, prior to his move to Santiago Bernabeu, the midfielder was closely linked with a move to Paris Saint-Germain.
In a recent interview, Tchouameni opened up on his links to PSG but revealed his decision to join Real Madrid.
Aurelien Tchouameni on PSG links
Talking about speculations linking him to PSG, Tchouameni said (h/t Madrid Zone), “PSG? Frankly, I thought about it. It’s a very big European club, we want the French clubs to succeed.”
“But honestly, when Real Madrid calls you, it’s very complicated to say no,” Tchouameni added.
The midfielder was linked with a move to PSG during his time at AS Monaco. Les Parisiens wanted to sign the youngster as part of their plans to reinforce the midfield unit.
Tchouameni, though, ended up opting for a move to Real Madrid, which turned out to be a prudent decision from the midfielder’s end.
Tchouameni’s career at Real Madrid
Aurelien Tchouameni made a total of 50 competitive appearances during his maiden season at Real Madrid.
Although the Frenchman was not entirely a first-team regular in Carlo Ancelotti’s setup, his stature in the team is expected to grow in the coming years.
Especially as Toni Kroos and Luka Modric move on at the end of the season, there is scope for Tchouameni to become a first-team regular in the Real Madrid midfield in the years to come.
The former AS Monaco starlet has already played a crucial role in the starting eleven so far this season and it is only going to continue as the season progresses.