Focus now on UEFA Super Cup for Real Madrid after Santiago Bernabeu Trophy triumph

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Real Madrid look ready for the new season.

Real Madrid rounded off their pre-season campaign by clinching the annual Santiago Bernabeu Trophy against AC Milan in the Spanish capital on Saturday night.

Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Borja Mayoral were all on target for Los Blancos in the 3-1 success.

The games are now coming thick and fast for Julen Lopetegui’s charges with the UEFA Super Cup encounter to come against city rivals Atletico Madrid on Wednesday evening in Estonia.

The Whites then host Getafe on Sunday night in their opening La Liga match.

Here, we assess some of the key talking points from the Rossoneri match and throw it ahead to the clash against Diego Simeone’s men.

Scoring goals doesn’t seem to be a big issue

How do you plug a deficit of 450 goals in 438 games over nine seasons? It’s the impossible task and there is no way of completely replacing Cristiano Ronaldo, but Real have quickly found ways around it.

The three-pronged front line of Marco Asensio, operating in more of a false capacity, along with flying attacker Gareth Bale and Frenchman Karim Benzema either side, seems to be gelling.

Los Blancos’ initial response to losing Ronaldo was to look outside rather than in but after pursuits for Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Robert Lewandowski failed to materialise, Lopetegui was more than happy to work with what he had.

And there is no dearth of quality.

Given neither of Asensio, Bale or Benzema featured at the World Cup, the new boss has had a clean slate in which to work with them with from July 18 and coach the trio into feeding off the same wavelength. Bale, in particular, is clearly relishing his role post-Ronaldo as the mainstay.

In total, Real notched nine goals in four pre-season matches against Manchester United, Juventus, Rome and Milan, with Asensio and Bale bagging three each, as well as a couple for Benzema – who appears to be ready to play a big role after a woeful 2017-18.

It is of course early days but none of the front three are now bound by Ronaldo or restricted by his movement. The parting of the club legend should also open the door to Borja Mayoral and Vinicius Junior in supplementing the load in the final third.

That all said, the effectiveness of Real’s attacking stars this season needs to be at the best possible level to fill Ronaldo’s goal void.

The Luka Modric effect

The Croatian World Cup star, who has reportedly penned a new and improved contract at the club giving him pay parity alongside Sergio Ramos and Bale, is staying put.

He received a standing ovation after coming off the bench in the second-half on Saturday, replacing Isco at the Bernabeu, in a glowing show of affection from the home faithful.

Lopetegui and club president Florentino Perez have made it clear the 32-year-old is the centrepiece for the Whites moving forward.

He, along with Toni Kroos, will need a flourishing support cast this coming campaign. Casemiro has the scope to improve technically under his new manager while Dani Ceballos and Marcos Llorente surely have a role to play to support Modric, as well as Isco.

The stage is set for Courtois to take the No1 jersey

Keylor Navas can count himself extremely unlucky to have been dislodged as Real’s No1. The Costa Rican might have the odd (rare) mistake in him but has been a stalwart of this side since 2015. Yes, he was one of Zinedine Zidane’s chief lieutenants but given he is only 31, had plenty of more miles in the tank left as the club’s first choice.

He featured on Saturday from the start, however, Navas is resigned to the fact Thibaut Courtois is the new man between the sticks, although he has vowed to stay and fight for his place.

Courtois, meanwhile, since his protracted arrival from Chelsea last week, has been training behind the scenes at the club’s Valdebebas base.

The Belgian is expected to make his competitive bow against Atletico, which is ironic given his past connection with the club. At his official presentation, Courtois was pictured kissing the Los Blancos badge – and that didn’t go down too well with the Los Rojiblancos support, with some sections of their fan base labelling him a “rat”.

Having finally sealed the dream move of his career though, he will be determined to start with a trophy.

Ultimately, Courtois should have the long-term goal of becoming the next Iker Casillas and seek to model his career on the club legend. But, first, he needs a strong start to the season and consistency in the bucketload to prove to Madridistas their club’s courtship of him was worthwhile after all.

Thibaut Courtois will in likelihood make his debut in midweek.

UEFA Super Cup is a big game

Facing Simeone in the dugout so early on in the season could prove to be a blessing or a hindrance for Lopetegui.

A positive pre-season leaves Real in a good position to hit the ground running, while a win over last season’s Europa League winners would be the perfect tonic.

Early bragging rights are at stake and Atletico once again have the capability to challenge on all fronts again.

For Lopetegui, we have seen his teams start games quickly – something which always used to baffle Zidane when his side failed to do just that. Possession-based football, with an emphasis of building the ball out from the back, has been a hallmark of pre-season coupled with Real’s increased pressing, which has been noticeable.

Tactically, Lopetegui fits and understands the ethos of the club.

Is Real’s transfer business done?

It looks that way, yes. Reports of a late and final pursuit of Eden Hazard have certainly pleased the headline-makers but it would take a sizeable warchest, possibly a world-record fee, to prise him away from Stamford Bridge.

Bringing in another forward shouldn’t be completely ruled out but from the outset it appears Perez’s business is as good as done, and gone are the Galactico days.

Eden Hazard starred during Chelsea's win at Huddersfield.

Eden Hazard is set to remain at Chelsea.

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Watch: Real Madrid beat AC Milan 3-1 to win Santiago Bernabeu trophy

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Club captains Sergio Ramos and Marcelo hold the trophy aloft.

Real Madrid ran out comfortable 3-1 winners against AC Milan in the annual Santiago Bernabeu Trophy match on Saturday night in the Spanish capital.

Goals from Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Borja Mayoral helped the Whites to the trophy while former Real striker Gonzalo Higuain found the back of the net for the away side.

Watch highlights from the match below:

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Live Real Madrid Blog: Cristiano Ronaldo reveals he is loving life at Juventus

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Hello one and all, David Cooper with you throughout the day for every nugget of Real Madrid news.

The European Super Cup is approaching and the continent-wide transfer deadline is just three weeks away – expect the Bernabeu to get noisier.

Read more, here.

6.30pm – Real name squad for Trophy clash against AC Milan

Signed and sealed: Thibaut Courtois.

Signed and sealed: Thibaut Courtois.

Real Madrid have announced a 30-man squad for Saturday night’s annual Santiago Bernabeu Trophy clash against AC Milan in the Spanish capital (11pm kick-off, UAE time).

Read more, here.

5pm – Ronaldo feels ‘happy’ at new club Juventus

Legendary No7: Cristiano Ronaldo.

Legendary No7: Cristiano Ronaldo.

Cristiano Ronaldo has revealed he is enjoying life at his new home and realised a childhood dream by signing for Juventus.

Read more, here.

3pm – Courtois in line for a start

Real new boy: Thibaut Courtois.

Thibaut Courtois is set to make his Real Madrid debut against city rivals Atletico Madrid in this coming Wednesday’s UEFA Super Cup clash (August 15), according to Marca.

Read more, here.

10:30am – Modric pens new deal

Real inspiration: Luka Modric.

Luka Modric has been handed a bumper pay increase by Real Madrid, putting the mercurial playmaker on the same financial terms as team-mate Sergio Ramos and Gareth Bale.

Read the full story, here.

10am – The Whites are in action tonight!

Real Madrid face Italian giants AC Milan on Saturday night in the Santiago Bernabeu Trophy.

It will be the final pre-season run-out for Julen Lopetegui’s men ahead of Wednesday’s UEFA Super Cup clash with Atletico Madrid in Estonia.

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