A Real Friendly

Destination three on Milan's series of meaningless friendlies branded as our "European Tour" takes us to Klagenfurt, Austria. To play Real Madrid. Why Austria? Who knows? Maybe Carletto fancies some proper Apfelstrudel, or the guys want to visit the famous Lindwurm fountain. Or perhaps Maldini wants to take a sail on the beautiful Lake Wörthersee, the namesake of the Wörthersee Stadium where we will play. Basically, if the two most successful clubs in Europe want to have a family reunion, you may as well have it in a beautiful location. Which makes this a real friendly.


History.

The clickbait journalists would have you believe that this is every bit a scouting expedition for Milan as it is a friendly match. Having paid their rent for the last couple of months by linking a few Real Madrid players with Milan, they are probably hoping to buy groceries, too. Not that I am ruling out any transfers at this point, in or out. I'm more worried about watching the football.

I honestly don't even care so much about the football, though. It is good to play these preseason matches to get match fit, and hopefully Pioli will do more experimentation with lineups than he did in the first couple of friendlies, even if it doesn't make us look good. With players at varying levels of fitness and the season only two weeks away, it is important to balance playing time while still minimizing injury risks. This is also the time to give a good look at bench players. Not just so they can say they once played Real Madrid or swap jerseys with a big name player, but also so the technical area can work together to finalize mercato plans. 


Memories.

Kjaer has returned to training and is expected to be ready for this match, should Pioli call upon him. Ibrahimović is still recovering from surgery, Kessié has not yet returned after his Olympic experience, and I believe that Bennacer is still recovering from his COVID positive test. For whatever reason, the deal that those hungry journalists have been reporting for months now to take Hauge to the Bundesliga has not materialized. Yet he was excluded from the last two matches reportedly pending that transfer.

Three young players who are being watched closely and have been impressing preseason include Brahim Díaz, Daniel Maldini, and Pobega. I would expect that Pioli, Maldini, and Massara are trying to determine their viability as starters, second choice, or in the case of Pobega, the opportunity to stay in the first team this season. In his case, I really hope he does. We will likely need him while Kessié and Bennacer are expected to be gone during the Africa Cup of Nations in January. Also, he's a pretty decent young player.


Legendary.

The biggest reason I will watch this game, though, is nostalgia. The very thought of seeing Ancelotti and Maldini together warms my heart and brings back so many fond memories. Theo Hernández and Brahím Diaz have friends and memories from Los Blancos, too. It is nice to feel worthy of playing a team like Real Madrid again, like we belong back with the top European clubs again. While I haven't been overly impressed with our overall play yet in any of the friendlies, we have seen moments of brilliance, and I am hoping to see a few more of those when we face another big club. This one should be a Real friendly.


This post inspired by the music of The Cranberries' Linger


Our next match is a Friendly
Real Madrid vs. AC Milan
Sunday, August 8 • 20:30 CEST (12:30pm EDT)
This match will be shown on ESPN in the U.S. 


A Real Friendly A Real Friendly Reviewed by Elaine on 11:53 PM Rating: 5
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