With no new signings in sight, Julen Lopetegui knows clearly the cards he has in his deck. During the team’s first full training session in Miami, which was delayed due to an electrical storm, the Basque coach organized a 60-minute practice match, in which the trio of Bale, Benzema and Vinicius made up the front line of the team of the supposed starters for Tuesday’s clash against Manchester United. Behind them in the midfield were Marcos Llorente and Ceballos, who acted as an anchorman for the front three.
Confidence in Vinicius has grown and his role has strengthened over the first few weeks of preseason training. The 18-year-old, who has adapted quickly, played on the left, in the space left by Ronaldo. Bale, the new star of the attack, played on the right, but moved inside freely. The two, along with Benzema, formed the head of Lopetegui’s 4-3-3 formation, with Odriozola, Vallejo, Javi Sanchez and Theo (Caravajal joined the squad yesterday and only did some running) in defence, while Valverde joined Llorente and Ceballos in the center.
It was an experimental eleven, as Nacho, Kroos, Isco and Asensio joined the group a week late into preseason training and yesterday only played half the game with the team of substitutes. However the four will surely see some game time against Manchester United, which kicks off on Tuesday at 20.00 local time (Wednesday, 02.00 CET). Captain Sergio Ramos is also unlikely to start and only joins the squad today, after being the only Spanish international not to shorten his vacation after the World Cup.