Dani Carvajal offers up explanation for Real Madrid's shaky pre-season form

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Dani Carvajal

Real Madrid have endured a tricky pre-season campaign with Zinedine Zidane’s freshly acquired squad of stars struggling to gel.

The 2019/20 campaign represents a massive season in the career of Zidane having crafted his own side at a massive expensive.

Glaring holes defensively have appeared in their warm-up clashes, though, with the team’s disjointed pressing game coming in for criticism.

However, defender Dani Carvajal is refusing to press the panic button and is adamant the French boss is ready to thrive next season.

“Zidane is crucial, just as he was during his career as a player and also during his first tenure as our coach. I hope he can be as successful during this second stint,” Carvajal to Omnisport (h/t ManagingMadrid.com).

“Our coach is more prepared than he’s ever been, he’s got experience and his stripes and he didn’t have that before.

“He has the respect and confidence of every single player and that’s the first thing you need to go far as a team.”

Carvajal also went some way to explaining their travails in pre-season so far.

“Coach is trying new players, new systems, a little bit of everything. Our goal is to get to the match in Balaidos with the best odds to win the game,” he explained.

“Every year is more exciting than the previous one, that’s how you have to feel it. If you want to be remembered as a great player you have to reset every summer break.”

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La Liga 2019/20: Real Madrid attack stands out with an 'A' but aging midfield is a 'C'

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One of the most active clubs in the transfer window, Real Madrid have splashed out €303 million on five big names. Los Blancos have strengthened their attack to a whole new level with the addition of Eden Hazard, Luka Jovic, and Rodrygo.

Eder Militao and Ferland Mendy constitute their defensive arrivals, but no midfielder has been signed by the club yet – despite consistent links with Paul Pogba and Donny van De Beek, and the departures of Marcos Llorente and Dani Ceballos.

A glance at the list of incoming players, however, suggest that Madrid may have taken massive strides towards the rebuilding of a world-class squad. We take a deeper look at the side, grade the different departments and assess their transfer activity.

Goalkeeper – B+

Real Madrid have two quality goalkeepers at their disposal.

Real Madrid have two quality goalkeepers at their disposal.

Thibaut Courtois and Keylor Navas are currently the two goalkeepers at the club. As Zinedine Zidane has already alluded to, the 2018 World Cup Golden glove winner is likely to replace Navas as the first-choice goalkeeper for the season.

But the pair’s showings from last season and the pre-season indicate that this could be a huge mistake. Despite turning 33 this coming December, the Costa Rican is still in pristine condition with his reflexes undiminished.

Madrid arguably have one of the best goalkeeping duos in Europe but their success will largely depend on how Zidane plans to use them. He must start with Navas and phase the veteran out only when the Belgian earns his spot.

Defence – B

SergioRamosRealMadrid (1)

The Spanish giants could have done better in strengthening their central defence, which was their weakest link from the woeful 2018/19 season. Raphael Varane was average at best and Sergio Ramos had a disastrous season, sprinkled with only a few moments of brilliance, though neither should be written off after one poor season.

Eder Militao was added to the roster from Porto but it’s unlikely that the 21-year-old will be thrown into the starting line-up immediately. Nacho would work as a fair back-up centre-back and a makeshift right-back. But the Spaniard lacks the consistent quality to make Varane or Ramos work for their spot.

As for Madrid’s full-backs, Dani Carvajal has at least a couple more years at the top level and Alvaro Odriozola has shown enough quality to function as a back-up.

Marcelo is on a decline and is more than ever a defensive liability, but Los Blancos have captured a clear successor in Mendy, who sparkled at Lyon.

Midfield – C

Luka Modric

An aging Luka Modric just can’t start every game for a top club like Madrid. The lack of flair and creativity in midfield was visible last season and the Spanish giants have not taken any measures to rectify this.

As it stands, Zidane has just five options in midfield, with Isco and Fede Valverde adding depth to the aforementioned players and Casemiro, with Marcos Llorente now at Atletico and Dani Ceballos on loan at Arsenal.

While Hazard will add some much-needed creativity to the side, the 13-time European champions are bound to face issues in deeper areas in midfield.

Zidane’s side are likely to find it difficult to set the tempo and build the play from midfield. The arrival of Pogba is more of a requirement than a luxury at this point. The Frenchman could be the missing jigsaw in Madrid’s puzzle – and Van De Beek adds star rotational power.

Attack – A minus

Rodrygo

Rodrygo

The attack would have received an A+ if not for the lingering doubt that too many cooks could end up spoiling the broth and the injury to Marco Asensio.

Madrid have listed as many as nine attackers in their 2019/20 squad. Lucas Vazquez could be sold, but the mega-money outcast in Gareth Bale remaining on the books is a distinct probability.

Vinicius Junior, Brahim Diaz, Rodrygo are likely to form the promising band of rotational players as Hazard, Karim Benzema and Jovic forge the front-line, with misfit Mariano likely to be sold.

An injury will see Asensio sidelined for most of the season and despite the depth that is a blow, as he was the front-runner for a right-sided role in attack.

Rodrygo impressed the most in pre-season, adding more substance to the hype surrounding his transfer and even playing from midfield. Should Vinicius manage to churn out end product from his promising runs on the wing, his influence on the team could be immense.

Madrid have the potential to be one of the best attacks in Europe in terms of substance and squad depth. Ultimately, it all falls to how the manager utilises his players.

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Paul Pogba not off the table for Real Madrid despite Donny van de Beek links

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Real Madrid may be eyeing up a move for Ajax midfielder Donny van De Beek but Manchester United still can’t rest easy, according to reports.

It is no secret that Zinedine Zidane is desperate for Paul Pogba to join him in Madrid and the failure to get a deal done has been a source of conflict between boss and board in the Spanish capital.

However, with Marcos Llorente now across the city with Atletico and Dani Ceballos on loan at Arsenal, midfield options are starting to look thin – which is why a double swoop for Van de Beek and Pogba can’t be ruled out, claim Marca.

A fee of between 60 to 70 million euros is likely to land Van de Beek, the 22-year-old who took the Champions League by storm with 2018/19’s story-of-the-season Ajax. But according to the report in Marca, Pogba remains the club’s ‘primary target’.

Indeed it could be a whirlwind end to the transfer window for both United and Madrid, who have already spent big.

United are closing in on a world-record deal for a defender with the purchase of Harry Maguire, while a Paulo Dybala swap deal with Romelu Lukaku is being worked upon and links to Sporting midfielder Bruno Fernandes haven’t died down.

Madrid have already brought in Ferland Mendy, Luka Jovic, Eder Militao, Rodrygo and Eden Hazard for a combined 300 million euros.

Pogba has been ruled out of United’s friendly with AC Milan on Saturday due to injury.

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