Julen Lopetegui starts Real Madrid tenure in Mexico
The first game that former Spain national team manager will lead Los Blancos into will be a pre-season friendly in Mexico following which the squad will head to Miami.
The Julen Lopetegui era at Real Madrid will start 9,020 kilometres from the Spanish capital. The Basque coach will make his debut on the bench for Los Blancos on July 28 for a friendly in Puebla against the local Mexican team.
Mexico then the USA
La Franja, as they are known, is the first test for the new Madrid project, ahead of the more illustrious tour of the United States, one that Florentino Pérez unveiled during the media get together for the presentation of Lopetegui.
"We are going back to Mexico because we have a lot of love for it and we have not been there for a long time," was the explanation given by the club president.
Puebla have not yet officially confirmed that the friendly is taking place - "When everything is finalised we will communicate" was the answer to a query put to the club by Diario AS - but it will be quite an event since Madrid have not travelled there for some 28 years. The game will be held at the Estadio Cuauhtémoc, the fifth biggest in terms of capacity in Mexico (51,700). This friendly was seen as a good fit, back when plans were being put in motion with Zinedine Zidane still the man in charge.
Man United, Juventus, Roma
Following the game, the Real Madrid players and staff will have a relatively comfortable onward trip, just three and a half hours on a charter flight from Puebla to Miami. There they will play the first match of the International Champions Cup against Manchester United on July 31. Then it's on to Washington to face Juventus (August 5) and New Jersey for a clash against Barcelona's Champions League conquerors, Roma, on August 8. These are planned to be the only four rehearsals before the European Super Cup, on August 15, against Atlético Madrid in Tallin, Estonia.
The abrupt departure of Lopetegui from the Spanish national team at the World Cup has accelerated preparations for a pre-season in which the squad will have to take in a new system and working methodology. To help this transition, the manager will have two of Zidane's support staff: Antonio Pintus (physical trainer) and Lluis Llopis (goalkeeper coach). The two men are still under contract and the club has held onto them.
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