Live Real Madrid Blog: Marcelo confident Los Blancos can win silverware this season

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

And there’s plenty going on following Los Blancos’ UEFA Super Cup final defeat to city rivals Atletico Madrid on Wednesday evening.

As ever, get in touch with us throughout the day on Twitter and Facebook.

9:00pm: Marcelo confident titles will be won

The Brazilian defender says Los Blancos have enough quality to win titles despite losing the UEFA Super Cup to Atletico Madrid on Wednesday. Read more on that story here.

Marcelo was part of the team that lost on Wednesday

Marcelo was part of the team that lost on Wednesday

4.30pm: La Liga heading stateside

The United States is set to host a regular-season La Liga match as part of a new 15-year deal to promote the league in North America.

Read more, here.

Gareth Bale.

Gareth Bale.

3pm: In-tray for Lopetegui

First season in charge: Julen Lopetegui.

First season in charge: Julen Lopetegui.

Real Madrid were presented with an early season wake-up call after defeat to Atletico Madrid in Wednesday evening’s UEFA Super Cup final.

Read Stuart Appleby’s take on what Los Blancos need to do ahead of La Liga opener.

2pm: Costa hails Ramos

Diego Costa and Sergio Ramos battle in Tallinn.

Following his two-goal haul for Atletico Madrid in his side’s 4-2 UEFA Super Cup victory over Real Madrid, Diego Costa showed his respect for Los Blancos captain Sergio Ramos – the man he got the better of during the Tallinn contest.

Read more, here.

12.06pm: Bale on song

Decent performance: Gareth Bale.

Decent performance: Gareth Bale.

Real Madrid boss Julen Lopetegui was happy with Gareth Bale‘s performance despite Los Blancos’ 4-2 defeat to Atletico Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup final.

Read more, here.

11am: Casemiro injury worry

The Brazilian hobbled off in the second-half.

The Brazilian hobbled off in the second-half.

Real Madrid midfielder Casemiro says the club have moved on from legend Cristiano Ronaldo.

Full quotes, here.

10:22am: Perez could open chequebook

Decisions to make: Club president Florentino Perez.

Decisions to make: Club president Florentino Perez.

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez is apparently considering whether Los Blancos need to dip into the transfer market and bring in new faces ahead of the August 31 window deadline in Spain.

Read more, here.

9:45am: Lopetegui calls for improvement in all areas

Julen Lopetegui stressed Real Madrid “have to improve in all facets” after their first competitive match under his management saw them suffer a 4-2 extra-time defeat to bitter rivals Atletico Madrid in the Super Cup.

Lopetegui told AS in his post-match press conference: “We had good game phases but it was not enough.

Read the full story, here.

Final defeat: Lopetegui.

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Julen Lopetegui in-tray and other things Real Madrid need to fix before La Liga kick-off

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First season in charge: Julen Lopetegui.

Real Madrid were presented with an early season wake-up call after defeat to Atletico Madrid in Wednesday evening’s UEFA Super Cup final.

In what was an encounter that could have gone either way, with Real dominating for large periods, Atleti showed more staying power and capitalised on poor Los Blancos defending to score two goals in extra-time and win the title.

It might be early days in the Julen Lopetegui era – which has yielded many bright signs during pre-season – however, the manner of the loss has not gone down well in the Spanish capital. After all, Real aren’t used to losing European finals, even against such strong opposition and in this case their local rivals.

Here, we look at three things the Whites need to work on quickly before Sunday’s La Liga opener at home to Getafe.

There is work to do physically

Footballers aren’t machines. Yes, today’s players, with the prominent role of sports science, have everything at their disposal to be in the best condition year-round but it is only natural the likes of Raphael Varane and Luka Modric, along with Toni Kroos, will take a while to get up to full speed.

Varane, in particular, endured a torrid night in Tallinn and was muscled out of the equation by Diego Costa for Atleti’s opener and his sloppiness led to Saul’s crucial third. It was not a performance we have come to expect from the France World Cup winner since the turn of 2018, but it was a rare off night, and the 25-year-old can be forgiven for a sluggish outing.

Likewise, Kroos sat deep and struggled to dictate play, appearing to still be searching for peak physical condition after a poor World Cup campaign with Germany. Match sharpness will come in the coming weeks but Kroos needs to figure out how he can be penetrative as a creative force playing deep in Lopetegui’s 4-2-3-1 system.

Modric, who came off the bench in the second period, showed his class on the ball but looks a little rusty. It is vital the 32-year-old reaches his optimum level soon.

In the coming days, expect there to be plenty of hard work ahead on the Valdebebas training ground. It is not a case of players lacking fitness but more match intensity, mentally and physically. Nevertheless, Lopetegui needs his cohort of senior stars to all be at their best soon to ensure a smooth transition into the new campaign.

Polish referee Szymon Marciniak (2nd R) shows a yellow card to Real Madrid's Spanish midfielder Marco Asensio (L) as Atletico Madrid's Spanish forward Diego Costa (C) sits on the pitch and Real Madrid's Spanish defender Sergio Ramos (R) and Real Madrid's French defender Raphael Varane (2nd L) gesture during the UEFA Super Cup football match Atletico de Madrid vs Real Madrid CF at the Lillekula Stadium in Tallinn, Estonia, on August 15, 2018. (Photo by Raigo PAJULA / AFP) (Photo credit should read RAIGO PAJULA/AFP/Getty Images)

Raphael Varane struggled to handle Diego Costa at the Lillekula Stadium.

Mental approach – Lopetegui has to get charges prepared for a title scrap

On the evidence of what we saw in Estonia and throughout pre-season, Diego Simeone’s Atleti appear potentially stronger than last term and will be a force on all fronts again.

The stellar addition of Thomas Lemar has given an experienced central midfield more legs and even though Antoine Griezmann will take some time, like a clutch of Real’s players, to hit his straps following the World Cup, his partnership with Costa is deadly and on paper has more goals in it than Real’s forward line of Marco Asensio, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale. And then there’s Barcelona, but that’s another piece altogether.

Overcoming wholesale change after the departures of Zinedine Zidane and Cristiano Ronaldo was always going to be a big challenge and Real will certainly be under no illusions of the task facing them to vie for the league title and retain their Champions League crown.

Lopetegui has obviously realised this – saying his team need “to improve in all facets” – off the back of the Atleti loss. He needs to build a no excuse environment which will allow his players to reach and maintain the highest possible standards of responsibility throughout this season – and as such – not give his squad any early opportunities to blame the boss if it all doesn’t go to plan.

The likes of Casemiro spoke highly of Lopetegui post-match and it is critical that he keeps all of his players on-side. After all, we have seen in the past how Real aren’t afraid to sack their manager.

TALLINN, ESTONIA - AUGUST 15: Toni Kroos of Real runs during the UEFA Super Cup between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid at Lillekula Stadium on August 15, 2018 in Tallinn, Estonia. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)

Toni Kroos will have to get up to speed quickly in a free-flowing 4-2-3-1 (4-3-3) system.

Keep the focus on his current squad, not the transfer window

Lopetegui hinted to as much post-match, rebuffing speculation Madrid will panic-buy and bolster with big-money reinforcements before the August 31 deadline.

Club president Florentino Perez is the boss when it comes to incomings but the man in the Bernabeu dugout should expect no new acquisitions and stick to his pre-season plans.

The issue of finding someone to fill Ronaldo’s boots was always going to lag somewhat, and is an impossible puzzle to solve, but with Asensio, Benzema and Bale he has three special players who seem to be relishing their new-found freedom of not being restricted by Ronaldo’s movement and legacy on the pitch.

Ultimately, the world’s best will always be linked with Los Blancos but they have more than enough world-class talent already. It is down to Lopetegui to ensure his tactical approach can get the best out of them consistently.

Will Real make any new acquisitions before transfer window deadline?

Will Real make any new acquisitions before transfer window deadline?

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Diego Costa reveals 'big friendship' with Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos

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Diego Costa netted a brace against Real on Wednesday night.

Following his two-goal haul for Atletico Madrid in his side’s 4-2 UEFA Super Cup victory over Real Madrid, Diego Costa showed his respect for Los Blancos captain Sergio Ramos – the man he got the better of during the Tallinn contest.

The former Chelsea striker was in potent form to give Atleti early season bragging rights over their city rivals, helping to inflict Real’s first continental final defeat in 18 years.

But the 29-year-old was modest post-match.

Watch what Costa had to say about Ramos in the video below:

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