Real Madrid ended their pre-season campaign by lifting the Santiago Bernabeu trophy as they beat AC Milan 3-1 in their final friendly on Saturday
The match was up and running just a couple of minutes in as Karim Benzema headed in from Dani Carvajal’s cross. But, the scores were level soon as Gonzalo Higuain scored against his former side from the edge of the box with a sumptuous curler.
Thereafter though, Real Madrid looked in control for the most part. And, they finally had their lead back on the stroke of half-time as Gareth Bale scored from close range. Milan, on the other hand, had Gianluigi Donnarumma to thank for keeping them in the game for long periods by making a number of fine saves.
— Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadrid) August 11, 2018
One of these stops saw him deny Luka Modric from point blank range. But, he could do nothing about the rebound as Borja Mayoral calmly nodded the ball into the back of the net. And so, Real Madrid lifted the Santiago Bernabeu trophy, having coasted to a 3-1 win over Milan. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Julen Lopetegui’s men.
Keylor Navas: 7/10
A solid performance from Navas, who will have to constantly look over his shoulder this season upon the arrival of Thibaut Courtois. Common consensus would be that he could have done better to stop Higuain’s effort, although that is a slightly harsh judgement.
Other than the aforementioned moment though, Navas made a number of solid stops, and should have done enough to keep his place for Real Madrid’s UEFA Super Cup clash against Atletico Madrid next week.
Dani Carvajal: 8/10
Carvajal has improved with each passing game, looking fitter than ever before. The Spaniard started the match in stunning fashion as he whooped in a dangerous cross that was met by Benzema to set the ball rolling for Real Madrid. He was subsequently a constant threat in the final third with his marauding runs.
At the back, there was no way past Carvajal. He showed a lot of awareness and presence of mind when he cleared Franck Kessie’s goal-bound effort off the line. Alvaro Odriozola will have a tough time usurping his senior teammate.
Raphael Varane: 7/10
Back for his first pre-season game after an extended post-World Cup break, Varane did show some signs of rustiness. But, those only came few and far between as he looked at ease in Lopetegui’s system when pressing high up the pitch. Looks set to start the Super Cup tie alongside Sergio Ramos.
Sergio Ramos: 7.5/10
Speaking of the captain, Ramos looks highly motivated after a poor World Cup. The Spaniard organised the backline smartly while himself being solid as well. His qualities on the ball were visible as well as he sprayed the ball forwards on a number of occasion. Needs to maintain this level for the upcoming season to ensure Real Madrid are competitive across competitions.
Marcelo too, seemed a little off pace in what was his first friendly since returning to training. But, he only looked a little suspect at the back. Going forward, his usual flair was there for all to see, with the Brazilian constantly threatening with runs down the left flank. The Super Cup tie against Atletico will be another big game for him to build up fitness.
Perhaps, the worst player among those who started for Real Madrid. Casemiro was unsure of his role at times, although there was very little way past him on the defensive front. It looks like the Brazilian might have to press higher up the pitch instead of staying deep, a role that he will have to get accustomed to over the course of the season.
Toni Kroos: 8.5/10
The star of the game for Real Madrid. Kroos has evidently brushed off the World Cup woes, and is seemingly motivated to continue Los Blancos‘ domination. The German midfielder was a true leader as he ran the show from his usual deep lying position in midfield while also instructing those around him.
Lopetegui’s system seems to suit him really well, and Kroos is set to be a pivotal figure for the European champions this season.
Gareth Bale: 8/10
GARETH BALE GOAL • REAL MADRID V MILAN (2X1) pic.twitter.com/Ylcm9u3d6j
— Real Madrid Goals (@RMGoals_) August 11, 2018
Another key player for Lopetegui ahead of the 2018-19 campaign. Bale was the most potent outlet for Real Madrid on the night, with his movement making him a constant threat. Also had a goal to show for his effort, a well deserved reward after a strong performance. The new superstar at the Bernabeu.
Isco has been touted to be Real Madrid’s central figure under Lopetegui, and there were a few signs of the things to come this season on the night. The Spaniard kept the defenders guessing with his movement across the width of the pitch, providing Kroos with a fine outlet in midfield.
The player is evidently growing in confidence, and it is clear that his performances will have a huge bearing for Los Blancos, be it during build-up or to finish off chances.
Marco Asensio: 6.5/10
One of the poorer outings of the pre-season by Asensio, who looked out of sorts at times. One notable aspect of his performance though, was him switching flanks with Gareth Bale, which makes both the players very unpredictable ahead of the season. Otherwise, the young Spaniard was a bundle of energy, which makes him a constant factor.
Karim Benzema: 8/10
Another step in the right direction in the pre-season for Benzema, who could be a big player for Real Madrid with no striker looking likely to move to the Bernabeu. The most noticeable change in the French striker seems to be the positions he is occupying, with Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure possibly making him a potent scorer again.
It was Benzema who opened the scoring for Real Madrid, and other than his emphatic header, his role in the build-up to the goal was key as well. And, as always, his movement on the night was top notch. Positives signs ahead of the new season.
Replaced Marcelo at half-time, and was typically solid and reliable at the back. Played as both left-back and centre-back at different stages of the second half, showing his versatility for the umpteenth time. A top utility player for Real Madrid.
Dani Ceballos: 8/10
One of the big positives from the pre-season for Real Madrid. Ceballos could enjoy his breakthrough campaign at the Bernabeu this season after another strong display in midfield. His movement makes him a big factor, in addition to his understanding with Kroos and Isco.
Marcos Llorente: 7/10
Llorente is another player who could be set for a bigger role this season, and he was impressive yet again with his showing in midfield. His versatility will be important as well, as Lopetegui could use him in defence as well.
Did not have much to do on the night. But, with Theo Hernandez likely to be loaned off this summer, it looks like Reguilon could have a big campaign being the understudy to Marcelo.
Borja Mayoral: 6.5/10
A big confidence booster for the young striker in what could be career defining season for him. Showed tremendous awareness to be at the right place at the right time when Modric’s shot was blocked.
Lucas Vazquez: 7/10
Impressive cameo by Vazquez, who showed his creative abilities by laying on the ball for Modric before it was saved by Donnarumma. A utility player for Lopetegui.
Luka Modric: 7/10
Bernabeu erupts singing at a Modric warming-up: “How can I not love you?” pic.twitter.com/09QdQOQVQm
— M•A•J¹³ (@Ultra_Suristic) August 11, 2018
A classy cameo by the Croat, who has been linked with a possible move away from the Bernabeu. But, a roaring reception indicated just how important he is for Real Madrid. Almost grabbed a goal as well.
Vinicius Junior: 6/10
The Bernabeu faithful cheered just about every touch taken by Vinicius Junior, who is already a fan favourite at Real Madrid. Didn’t have much to do in his short stint on the pitch.