Real Madrid vs AC Milan: Preview and Prediction
Both clubs have been very busy in the transfer market, and while the friendly will be Madrid’s first pre-season game, Milan already played an exhibition game against Lumezzane winning 6-0 with Tommaso Pobega, Junior Messias, Lorenzo Colombo, and Luka Romero on the scoresheet.
Carlo Ancelotti’s men have added considerable firepower to their midfield with the arrival of Jude Bellingham for a record €103 million plus add-ons and Brahim Diaz returned to his parent club after the end of his loan stint at Milan.
They also snapped up Joselu on loan from Espanyol and signed Arda Guler from under the noses of Barcelona. Fran Garcia has also returned after his buyback clause was activated.
There have been some high-profile departures as well with Karim Benzema, Eden Hazard, Mariano Diaz, and Marco Asensio leaving the club while many others are likely to follow.
Similarly, the Rossoneri have added the likes of Christian Pulisic, Tijani Reijnders, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, and Luka Romero to their ranks, whereas Sandro Tonali remains the only high-profile departure.
Having reached the Champions League semifinals last season, both teams will look to build on their performances this year and they will be hoping to pick up some momentum during the pre-season friendly against each other.
While the Los Blancos will take part in their first pre-season friendly this summer, Stefano Pioli’s side gave a good account of themselves during their recent 6-0 hammering of Lumezzane.
Last season, Ancelotti guided his side to Copa del Rey final wherein they defeated Osasuna to pick up some silverware, they also won the UEFA Super Cup and the Club World Cup however they finished in second place in La Liga, ten points behind arch-rivals Barca. In the Champions League, they suffered a humiliating 5-1 defeat on aggregate in the semi-final against Manchester City.
Los Blancos have a star-studded lineup when it comes to their pre-season friendlies as they are set to take on Manchester United, Barcelona, and Juventus before their league opener against Athletic Bilbao on August 12.
Milan on the other hand finished fourth in Serie A, failing to defend their league crown while they did reach the Champions League semis, Pioli’s side was outclassed by their city rivals Inter Milan.
The Rossoneri also finished runners-up in the Supercoppa Italiana losing to Inter again, whereas in the Coppa Italia, they were ousted in the round of 16 courtesy of a narrow defeat to Torino. The San Siro-based outfit is also set to lock horns with Juventus, Barcelona, and Monza before their league opener away to Bologna on August 21.
These two clubs have met each other 18 times across all competitions, including friendlies, with Los Blancos claiming 8 wins, while the Italian giants have won 6 times. 4 matches ended all square. Their last meeting ended 0-0 during a friendly in 2015, with Madrid winning 10-9 on penalties.
Since the departure of Benzema, the biggest question that Ancelotti will be facing is whether to stick to the usual 4-3-3 formation or try out a new system which he recently hinted at a press conference.
“This year we might play a different system. The system we have played with has been very successful, but we can try a new style,”said Carlo.
With Joselu unlikely to be a certain starter in big games, it might be possible that Madrid turn to a 4-4-2 diamond with Jude Bellingham playing as a 10, however, for the pre-season game against Milan, they might as well try out Joselu in a 4-3-3 alongside Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo. Dani Ceballos is the only player out injured for the Spanish giants, while Bellingham, Guler, and Garcia are all expected to make their debuts.
Pioli left out some big names from the pre-season tour notably Divock Origi and Ante Rebic who are set to depart the club.
Loftus-Cheek and Pulisic are in line for their respective debuts while youngsters such as Chaka Toure and Jan-Carlo Simic might also get a chance to shine. Ismael Bennacer is a long-term absentee and remains sidelined due to his knee injury.
Predicted Starting XIs
Real Madrid (4-3-3): Thibaut Courtois; Dani Carvajal, Eder Militao, David Alaba, Fran Garcia; Jude Bellingham, Aurelien Tchouameni, Toni Kroos; Vinicius, Joselu, Rodrygo.
AC Milan (4-2-3-1): Mike Maignan; Davide Calabria, Matteo Gabbia, Fikayo Tomori, Alessandro Florenzi; Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Tommaso Pobega; Rafael Leao, Rade Krunić, Christian Pulisic; Olivier Giroud.
Given the intensity and both coaches’ willingness to test their bench strength the game may well end up all square, however, Madrid will have a slight edge on their opponents given their star power.