Real Madrid vs. Fiorentina: How Real Should Line Up in Warsaw Friendly

Samuel MarsdenFeatured ColumnistAugust 15, 2014

Real Madrid players pose with the trophy after winning the UEFA Super Cup soccer match between Real Madrid and Sevilla in Cardiff City Stadium, in Cardiff, Wales, Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
Alastair Grant/Associated Press

Real Madrid may have played their first competitive game of the season against Sevilla in the European Super Cup on Tuesday, winning 2-0, but before they switch their attention to the Spanish Supercopa, against Atletico Madrid next week over two legs, they have another friendly match to play.

That friendly is against Italian side Fiorentina and will be played in Warsaw, Poland.

Los Blancos' official website claim the club has an enormous following in Poland, suggesting the Champions League win was fanatically celebrated there. So on Saturday evening, the army of Polish football fans will hope Carlo Ancelotti puts out his big stars.

Whether he will or not is difficult to work out.

With an overload of fixtures coming up, it would make more sense for Madrid's Italian boss to instead tinker with his side, giving players who have not played so much the chance to invest in some minutes.

On Tuesday they host Atleti in the Supercopa, on Friday they play the return leg at the Vicente Calderon and a week on Monday they kick off La Liga at home to newly promoted Cordoba, who are managed by former Barcelona right-back Albert Ferrer.

And with those games on the horizon, players like Marcelo, excluding six minutes against Sevilla, Angel Di Maria, Raphael Varane and Sami Khedria are yet to play for the club since the World Cup ended.

Tony Ding/Associated Press

Andres Kudacki/Associated Press

Keylor Navas hasn't had a chance to keep goal yet, either, and Spanish publication Marca say he will be handed the gloves in Poland.

That certainly should be the choice Ancelotti makes: The Costa Rican needs to play alongside his new teammates before the season kicks off, particularly given that he may yet end up as the club's first-choice stopper.

In defence, the chance should certainly be seized to get Varane back into action; the Frenchman should be paired with Sergio Ramos, given those two are likely to stick around at Madrid for longer than Pepe, making them the long-term central-defensive partnership in the Spanish capital.

Dani Carvajal and Fabio Coentrao started in Cardiff on Tuesday night, so it would make sense for Alvaro Arbeloa and Marcelo to come in as full-backs.

Once again, and as it will be throughout the season, Ancelotti's biggest puzzle lies in midfield.

Against Sevilla he played Toni Kroos and Luka Modric as his duo and, if that is to be his preferred option, he should stick with that.

However, Modric has managed a few games in pre-season now, meaning it would possibly be better to line up with Xabi Alonso, who was suspended on Tuesday night, alongside Kroos.

In front of them, James Rodriguez still needs minutes and would benefit from starting, even if he just plays 45 minutes.

Kirsty Wigglesworth/Associated Press

Victor R. Caivano/Associated Press

As for Sami Khedira and Angel Di Maria, rumours persist over their futures.

Talks don't seem to be progressing over a new deal for Khedira, with Ben Jefferson of The Express saying he will instead move to Arsenal or Chelsea. If that is the case, as in Wales, the German international should not be involved.

And if Angel Di Maria is set to leave—the Metro say Manchester United are still in talks—then it wouldn't make sense to play him either.

Across the front line, Ancelotti should stick with Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo, for little other reason than there aren't many alternatives.

While Madrid need to be careful not to burn players out before the season begins, they also need to take advantage of this final friendly to bed in new players and give those without much action in pre-season some minutes.


Real Madrid possible XI: Keylor Navas; Alvaro Arbeloa, Raphael Varane, Sergio Ramos, Marcelo; Xabi Alonso, Toni Kroos; James Rodriguez; Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo