Real Madrid take on Juventus at the Fed-ex Field on Saturday as part of the pre-season tour event known as the International Champions Cup.
A new look Real Madrid will attempt to improve their fitness ahead of the start of the 2018-19 campaign. Julen Lopetegui’s men showed some spark against Manchester United. But, the match against Juventus will likely be an emotional one for the fans, with the potential of Cristiano Ronaldo being on the pitch, not as a Real Madrid player, in a match featuring the European champions in a long long time.
Juventus fans, on the other hand, will excited at getting the first glimpse of what the next few years hold for them, with Ronaldo added to the squad. The Bianconeri are also in with a good chance of winning the entire pre-season event. But, they will have to secure a win over Real Madrid, albeit a second-string squad, to do the same.
We take a closer look at the two sides.
Team News & Tactics
Julen Lopetegui’s football seems to be oriented more towards possession, a stark contrast to the counter-attacking style Real Madrid displayed under Zinedine Zidane. But, the pace on the wings against Manchester United proved that even with a lion’s share of possession, the squad is more than capable of being a threat on the counter.
Javier Sanchez was the only player to have played the entire 90 minutes against Manchester United and could be afforded another outing in defence. Andriy Lunin looked good in goal and should start against Juventus. Nacho could replace Jesus Vallejo as Sanchez’s partner in central defence, with the full-backs likely to remain the same.
Isco and Toni Kroos should come into the lineup. The third midfielder could be Federico Valverde, with the player of a similar mould as Casemiro, albeit with more technical finesse compared to the Brazilian. If there is one player who excited the fans against Manchester United, it was Vinicius Jr.
The Brazilian received several claps for his ability and there was an electric atmosphere each time he was on the ball. Vinicius Jr. should start, with Marcos Asensio likely to be deployed on the other wing. We could see a first look of Gareth Bale as the central striker against Juventus in what could present a direct duel between Ronaldo and the Welshman, if Ronaldo does take the field.
There are reports that Lopetegui will field both Karim Benzema and Dani Ceballos. But, we expect both of them to be given minutes in the second half, with this to be the starting eleven. On the other hand, Benzema and Ceballos could start, with Asensio and Valverde likely to come on later.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Lunin; Odriozola, Nacho, Sanchez, Theo; Kroos, Valverde, Isco; Asensio, Bale, Vinicius Jr.
The fans have been waiting anxiously for Ronaldo to take the field. But, if reports are to be believed, the player is unlikely to feature against Real Madrid. Ronaldo has joined up with his teammates, but has not been snapped among the players to travel to Washington, similar to other stars like Paulo Dybala, Rodrigo Bentancur and Juan Cuadrado, who all have been enjoying extended breaks.
Another player who will not feature is Leonardo Bonucci. The player has returned to Juventus in a deal that saw Gonzalo Higuain and Mattia Caldara moving to AC Milan. The veteran has joined his new teammates back at the club and has not travelled to Washington with the squad.
We should see Mattia Perin being afforded a chance to shine between the posts, with Daniele Rugani and Giorgio Chiellini likely to be the centre-back pairing. Joao Cancelo and Alex Sandro should be the designated defenders out wide in a four-man backline.
In midfield, Emre Can could pair up with Miralem Pjanic and Claudio Marchisio, with the German likely to be a competitor to Sami Khedira for the last spot.
Andrea Favilli and Mathues Pereira were impressive in attack and should assume their places in the starting eleven. Favilli would be looking forward to prove he can be a reliable option upfront for Juventus, with Higuain moving to AC Milan. Federico Bernardeschi should complete the stating eleven.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Perin; Cancelo, Rugani, Chiellini, Alex Sandro; Marchisio, Can, Pjanic; Pereira, Favilli, Bernardeschi
Journey So Far in the International Champions Cup
Real Madrid have played just one match so far in the pre-season event, losing 2-1 to Manchester United. There were several positives to take from it, with the players displaying an enticing brand of football for the crowd.
Juventus started out well, with a 2-0 win over Bayern Munich. Andrea Favilli’s brace means he is an exciting player to watch, having joined the club in July. The Bianconeri drew with Benfica, but prevailed in penalties to continue their unbeaten run in the competition.
Player to Watch
Vinicius Jr vs Manchester United🤙🇧🇷
Generational Talent 🔝
— Vinícius Júnior (@ViniciusStat) August 1, 2018
Not many arrivals have managed to cause so much excitement as the Brazilian has. And against Manchester United, he showed just why he has been labelled as the next big thing for Brazilian football. With Ronaldo gone, Vinicius Jr. has a chance to make the spot his own.
Despite his age, his performance against Manchester United showed that he might not be the complete package to replace Ronaldo, but he is closer to it than most. Juventus present another opportunity for Vinicius Jr. to prove himself to Julen Lopetegui and the Real Madrid fans.
Real Madrid 2-2 Juventus [P]
Real Madrid will continue to field a weakened side as they face Juventus. The Italian giants are likewise, missing some big names. But, Juventus have more first-team stars available compared to Real Madrid. Add to it the greater fitness level of the Italian giants owing to more pre-season matches played so far, and all things point towards a Juventus win.
Real Madrid though, will work their socks off, as seen in their first pre-season fixture. We expect an even matchup, with Juventus likely to edge the European Champions on penalties.