A champion's work is never done. Real Madrid may have captured their elusive "La Decima," but they can't afford to rest on their laurels if they want to reclaim their spot atop La Liga.
Los Blancos' Champions League final triumph over Atletico Madrid helped to blunt some of the pain that came with watching the club's crosstown rivals—Atletico—win the league.
Winning that 10th European crown had become an obsession at the Santiago Bernabeu, and now that it's over, a sense of normalcy can return.
Preseason friendlies will offer players a chance to put the Champions League win in the rear-view mirror and shift their focus to the 2014/15 campaign. Bringing home one league title in six years is a bona fide drought for Real Madrid, so that will be at the top of the checklist for next year.
Here's a look at Madrid's five preseason fixtures.
|Date||Time (ET)||Time (BST)||Opponent||Location|
|July 26||3 p.m.||8 p.m.||Inter Milan*||Berkley, Calif.|
|July 29||8:15 p.m.||1:15 a.m. (July 30th)||Roma*||Dallas, Texas|
|August 2||4:06 p.m.||9:06 p.m.||Manchester United*||Ann Arbor, Michigan|
|August 16||2:45 p.m.||7:45 p.m.||Fiorentina||Warsaw, Poland|
|TBA||TBA||TBA||River Plate+||Madrid, Spain|
Note: * indicates matches are part of the International Champions Cup, while + indicates match is for the Santiago Bernabeu Trophy.
By taking part in the International Champions Cup, Real Madrid are continuing to grow their brand in the United States. They're already one of the most lucrative brands in world football, but overseas tours like this one ensure that they remain relevant for the newer generations of football fans.
The U.S. will also be riding a wave of momentum from the World Cup. Thousands of American fans will turn up to watch Los Blancos take on Manchester United, Roma and Inter Milan. Some of those fans may be watching club football for the first time.
Watching stars like Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Luka Modric is a great way to get hooked on the game.
The ICC will be a big moneymaker for Real Madrid, but their more important matchup may come against Fiorentina. That friendly comes right before the Spanish Super Cup and will give players one more opportunity to gain match fitness before the important stuff begins.
With the World Cup ongoing, this summer has been a bit quiet for Madrid on the transfer front. Florentino Perez loves making splashy signings after an international tournament, so the club won't be standing pat for too long.
Four years ago, he signed Mesut Ozil, Sami Khedira and Ricardo Carvalho. Four years before that, Fabio Cannavaro, Wesley Sneijder and Ruud van Nistelrooy arrived.
According to Marca, Real Madrid have a €25 million deal worked out with Bayern Munich that would send Toni Kroos to the Bernabeu, via Spanish football journalist Dermot Corrigan:
In other news Toni Kroos is on Marca cover http://t.co/rGMYty9xn4 . They say €25m deal agreed with Bayern to be completed after WC.— Dermot Corrigan (@dermotmcorrigan) July 3, 2014
Kroos has been crowded out a bit in Munich. He's always had trouble nailing down a regular first-team spot, and last year's acquisitions of Thiago Alcantara and Mario Goetze only pushed him lower down the pecking order.
Bayern's CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge maintained back in April that Kroos wasn't going anywhere.
"It is safe to say that Toni Kroos will play for FC Bayern next season," he said, per ESPN FC's Stephan Uersfeld. "In addition to it, it is also our will that he wears our jersey beyond June 30, 2015."
Bayern Munich are working against the clock, though, since Kroos' contract runs out in a year. After this summer, they risk losing him for nothing. The 24-year-old is good enough to play on any side in the world, so you can understand why Real Madrid are targeting him.
However, Madrid themselves have some problems in term of a logjam in midfield—one that could be remedied by selling Angel Di Maria, per French football journalist Jonathan Johnson:
Di Maria become one of the club's best players last year, but if Real Madrid are dead-set on selling him, now would be the time. At 26 years old, he's in the prime of his career and coming off one of his most impressive seasons.
His value won't ever be higher than it is now.
Madrid will likely be very active in the transfer market once the World Cup is over. Ancelotti will need each and every one of those friendlies to ensure that the club is ready to hit the ground running in La Liga and the Champions League.