Roma V Real Madrid: What We Learned from International Champions Cup
Perhaps some of the most ridiculous hyperbole in football—and there is often a lot within the game—can come off the back of a side losing a pre-season friendly.
Real Madrid fans may be disappointed to have witnessed their side go down to a Francesco Totti goal against Roma in the United States, however, Carlo Ancelotti will be taking much more from the game than merely the result.
Of course it is always nice to win, but Los Blancos' aim is to start the season on fire, not to use up all their reserves in these early fixtures.
Next up for Madrid is Manchester United, but, until then, let's take a look at what we learned from the Roma defeat.
Madrid Played Attacking Football
"The side played aesthetically," Carlo Ancelotti told Real Madrid's official website after the match at the Cotton Bowl.
And while that may sound like an excuse for ending the game with a zero next to your name, the Italian wasn't exaggerating.
Isco saw an early chance blocked by Roma’s new left-back Ashley Cole, while Gareth Bale—the star in the absence of James Rodriguez, Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema—threatened with a cross-shot before wasting a one-on-one when put through by Lucas.
It was then Lucas who had a chance, watching on as his shot was stopped by Roma keeper Lukasz Skorupski and Pepe's rebound was bundled away.
As the first half drew to a close, Madrid's attacking brand of football had seen them register nine shots to the Italian club's two.
"We looked to use the ball from the wings and played well," Ancelotti continued.
"Everything apart from the game's result was good.
"The side was solid, with some solid offensive play. The control of the game was good."
Once behind, Madrid didn't create as many chances, but there were still opportunities to score for Luka Modric and Raul de Tomas, who twice tried his luck from the edge of the box.
Internationals Steadily Returning
In a World Cup year, the most difficult thing for managers of Europe's biggest clubs is getting your star players back and getting them on the same fitness page.
Ancelotti is slowly starting to do that.
Against Roma he took the chance to hand Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Luka Modric, Fabio Coentrao, Xabi Alonso and Alvaro Arbeloa their first competitive minutes of pre-season.
Regardless of the result, it's always nice to get your top performers back into the groove.
"Everyone has worked on, and improved their physical condition," Madrid's boss noted in an interview with the club's official website.
"Those who have arrived late played a game without problems."
Arbeloa added that "the important thing is to play some minutes and improve," per Madrid's official website.
After the World Cup there are a lot of absentees, but the players are returning. We are happy and working well. It is a good pre-season despite the results.
We are missing important players, we have to carry on working and adapting, and we will improve as we look to find our best version. We have spent a while doing this and we know at the start it's always difficult.
Ancelotti's next task?
To get Ronaldo, James, Toni Kroos and the rest back into action in the near future.
Younger Players Getting Plenty of Minutes
While it's far from ideal to have to work pre-season around the varying player return dates following a summer international tournament, it does often mean the younger players get a chance to play for the first team.
That has certainly been the case for Real Madrid so far this summer.
Against Inter Milan in their first pre-season friendly, a host of young players were handed minutes, with Lucas maintaining his place for the Roma match.
The forward demonstrated his vision to set up Gareth Bale for an early chance, while only Lukasz Skorupski's shrewd keeping prevented him getting his name on the scoresheet.
Raul de Tomas, a second half substitute, was also unlucky not to register a goal, although he showed few nerves when it came to getting shots away.
There were also appearances for Diego Llorente, Omar Mascarell, Ruben Sobrino and Alvaro Medran.
"The youngsters were good," Alvaro Arbeloa told Madrid's official website.
Meanwhile, the only three players to complete the match were three players who are still, relatively speaking, youngsters as well: Dani Carvajal, Asier Illarramendi and Isco.
The trio were signed last summer as Madrid looked to usher in a Spanish era at the club, although with a change in direction during this transfer window—see the signings of James and Kroos—Isco and Illarramendi, at least, are going to have to fight for their minutes this season.
Ancelotti's giving them plenty of time to show what they can do in pre-season.