International Champions Cup Preview: Real Madrid
Real Madrid are the richest football club on earth and the most successful club in Spain. Their name represents the absolute highest caliber of football, and they will be coming to the United States later this month to compete in the 2013 International Champions Cup.
Here’s a preview of the incomparable Real Madrid:
August 1, 2013: Real Madrid vs LA Galaxy, Phoenix (University of Phoenix Stadium) 9:30pm ET
August 3, 2013: Loser of Real Madrid vs LA Galaxy will play loser of Juventus vs Everton F.C. or winner of Real Madrid vs LA Galaxy will play winner of Juventus vs Everton F.C., Los Angeles (Dodger Stadium) 8:00pm ET or 10:30pm ET
August 6, 2013: Opponent to be determined, Miami (Sun Life Stadium), 6:30pm ET or 9pm ET
August 7, 2013: Opponent to be determined, Miami (Sun Life Stadium), 6:30pm ET or 9pm ET
What to Expect
Expect the kind of play fitting a club consistently fielding the world’s greatest footballers: massive doses of individual skill employed in the service of scoring goals. They are certainly on no one’s list of best defensive teams, but when you can boast fielding one of the top two best attacking players on the planet, do you really need to? Nevertheless, this is a team on the rebound after a disappointing 2012/13 campaign. Their squad has already seen some star additions this summer and will likely see more. Expect an extremely gifted team, hungry for success, but adapting to new teammates and a new manager in outgoing Paris Saint-Germain boss Carlo Ancelotti, a man who will attempt just about any formation in order to get the players he wants on the field.
Who to Watch For
Two words: Cristiano Ronaldo.
What can be said about the man that hasn’t been said already? The gifted winger is the only player on earth capable of even attempting to dispute Lionel Messi’s claim to World’s Greatest Footballer. The man averages over a goal a game for Madrid, and he’s played hundreds there; there really isn’t a player more likely to score. Whatever can be said about Real Madrid’s ups and downs as a squad, Cristiano Ronaldo is currently one in around 3.5 billion.
Special attention should also be paid to the team’s new signings, a young Spanish trio of immense skill: Daniel Carvajal, Asier Illarramendi, and Isco.
Out: Jose Callejon
In: Daniel Carvajal, Asier Illarramendi, Isco
While the biggest transfer stories surrounding Real Madrid involve rumors of players like Luis Suarez and Gareth Bale signing for the club, there have been some real live additions that should make a real impact on the already star studded squad.
Right back Daniel Carvajal is no new name for close observers of Real – the 21 year old Spaniard is a product of Madrid’s youth system, though after failing to appear in the senior squad he was sold last July to Bayer Leverkusen. After finishing the campaign voted 3rd best right back in Germany by fans, Madrid apparently realized their error and snapped him back up. The German fans were not wrong: Carvajal is a fantastic attacking right back, notching seven assists while putting in an equally impressive defensive shift. He will be a definite improvement for Real at this position.
In midfielders Illarramendi and Isco, Real Madrid have purchased two of Spain’s brightest young stars. Asier Illarramendi is an anchor at defensive midfield, excelling at intercepting passes and tackling. Since his unveiling, much has been made of his position as Xabi Alonso understudy. He does not posses such vision or passing prowess yet, but does have the same Basque roots as the Madrid playmaker. Expect great things as he learns from a true world beater.
The 21-year-old Isco is one of the best young passers in Europe, and in many ways the heir apparent to his renowned compatriot, Andres Iniesta. Isco is a dazzling dribbler who loves to rush in on defenders just outside the box, and is very adept at drawing fouls as a result. By all accounts Isco should develop into Spain’s next great midfielder (along with Bayern target Thiago Alcantara).
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