It seemed like an eternity since Karim Benzema bid farewell just a few weeks back, but the commentator recalled him as the teams assembled for the first pre-season match of the summer. The hiatus is over, and Real Madrid is back on the football field, with fresh faces donning the new away kit for the 2023-24 season at the Rose Bowl.
As expected, Carlo Ancelotti opted for a 4-4-2 diamond formation, with Jude Bellingham positioned just behind Joselu and Brahim Diaz. Eduardo Camavinga and Fede Valverde took on the roles of central midfielders, playing ahead of the single defensive midfielder, Toni Kroos.
Milan initiated the match with an intense and aggressive press, and Real Madrid responded with early signs of urgency as Joselu and Brahim pressed high up the field. Jude Bellingham made a remarkable impact in his first 45 minutes as a Real Madrid player. His quick footwork in tight spaces and seamless one-touch exchanges with Eduardo Camavinga and Fede Valverde was a delight. Camavinga had an impressive half, effortlessly maneuvering past Milan players on occasions and displaying his trademark ‘cobra tackle’ a couple of times to bolster the defense.
Real Madrid’s initial strategy was to stretch the field on the right by positioning Lucas Vazquez as an expansive right-back. Meanwhile, Brahim and Fede played inwards to create the necessary space for Vazquez to deliver crosses into the box. This play pattern was executed multiple times with cutbacks and crosses, but unfortunately, they couldn’t convert any into a goal. In the mid-block, Madrid employed a narrow and compact pressing approach, with Kroos, Fede, and Jude maintaining proximity to each other during the build-up. Toni Kroos stood out for his excellent defensive contributions on both flanks.
On the contrary, Milan heavily relied on Christian Pulisic to penetrate Madrid’s box from the left, and he successfully executed this strategy on several occasions. Milan scored against the game’s flow from Pulisic’s corner, as Tomori expertly guided a header into the net. Later, Milan extended their lead through substitute Luka Romero, who capitalized on a poor defensive clearance from Madrid and skillfully struck the ball into the top corner from a long distance. The first half concluded with Milan in the lead, scoring 2-0.
The second half brought more excitement for Real Madrid as Ancelotti made eight changes, introducing Carvajal, Rudiger, Alaba, Fran Garcia, Tchouameni, Modric, Vinicius, and Rodrygo into the game.
Yet, Fede Valverde single-handedly brought Real Madrid back into the game with a rapid brace. His first goal was a long-range shot that the goalkeeper couldn’t hold, and the second goal was a well-placed opportunistic strike.
Rodrygo exhibited a newfound agility, maintaining a burst of pace while dribbling on the right, an aspect he previously lacked. Vinicius took some time to find his rhythm, but eventually, he got into the groove. The new number seven, Vinicius, put Real Madrid ahead with a goal resulting from a delightful pass by Luka Modric from deep. Additionally, Fran Garcia made a strong impression in his return to Real Madrid. The match concluded with Real Madrid securing a 3-2 victory over AC Milan.