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Real Madrid: Five who caught the eye against Manchester United

Real Madrid lost 2-1 in Julen Lopetegui's first game in charge, but several players gave a good account of themselves in defeat.
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Vinicius, durante el Manchester United-Real Madrid.


Playing your first game for Real Madrid is never an easy task, particularly if you're 18 years old, are yet to get to grips with the language and are still finding your feet within the group - and, despite your young age, are already carrying a 45m-euro price tag... That's quite a bit to deal with and, though we'll be hoping to see him grow further in Real's coming friendlies, the account Vinicius gave of himself in Miami bodes well: just as had been expected, he showed himself to be a gifted, skilful dribbler who turns his markers inside out, a player who can unlock the sort of ultra-defensive backlines that, particularly in LaLiga, Real seemed to struggle to break down last term. His flurry of stepovers to bamboozle Manchester United's Timothy Fosu-Mensah was a sample of what that he could, and should, bring to the side in the months to come. There must have been plenty more where that came from in pre-season training so far for the club to have decided to include him in the 2018/19 first-team squad even before their first summer friendly.

Álvaro Odriozola

Odriozola did not need long to demonstrate the kind of player Real have added to their ranks, taking just seven minutes to link up with Gareth Bale on the right, showcase his turn of pace and set up Karim Benzema for a clear goalscoring chance that was squandered by the Frenchman. That was his most effective, but by no means only, attempt to join in the attack; meanwhile, the former Real Sociedad right-back also defended well, if given a tough time by an on-song Alexis Sánchez in the first half. Odriozola has the unenviable task of competing with Dani Carvajal - a four-time European champion with Real and a fixture on the right side of their defence - but the young Basque has made an encouraging start.

Real Madrid's Dani Ceballos (left) vies for the ball with Manchester United's Timothy Fosu-Mensah at the Hard Rock Stadium.
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Real Madrid's Dani Ceballos (left) vies for the ball with Manchester United's Timothy Fosu-Mensah at the Hard Rock Stadium.GASTON DE CARDENASAFP

Dani Ceballos

In the end, there were plenty of positives for Real Madrid to take out of the International Champions Cup clash at the Hard Rock Stadium - chiefly because of a determined second-half performance that saw Los Blancos pin United back despite making a raft of changes that included a number of inexperienced players. In truth, the first 45 offered significantly less for the Spaniards to shout about - but Dani Ceballos was one exception. In every area of his work, the midfielder was Real's guiding light before the break, pressing the opposition with gusto, assiduously dropping deep to offer his defence an outlet, spreading the play from flank to flank, linking up nicely with Federico Valverde and Marcos Llorente in the engine room, and with Vinicius and Bale further forward. All he lacked was a greater presence around United's penalty box. Julen Lopetegui does not have an excess of midfielders at his disposal at this point of the pre-season, and it is Ceballos who is currently in the best shape. His display against the Red Devils was a statement of his intent to establish himself as an important figure in Lopetegui's Madrid, starting with the Uefa Super Cup against Atlético Madrid on 15 August.

Federico Valverde

He went about his work without fanfare in the first half, but by no means without effect; alongside the more prominent Ceballos, the Uruguayan was tidy in his midfield endeavours, taking no unnecessary risks and rarely giving away possession. In the second half, however, he took a step to the fore, displaying his ability to supply penetrative passes that found the runs of his team's full-backs and wingers, and of Ceballos. All the while, though, the 20-year-old remained mindful of his defensive responsibilities, joining Llorente in forming a shield in front of the backline that saw United's attacking threat dry up after half time.

Sergio Reguilón

The game time that the left-back was given in the second period left no-one in any doubt that Lopetegui should have no qualms about turning to the youth product as back-up to Marcelo if and when Theo Hernández's loan move to Real Sociedad is confirmed. A fixture in Santiago Solari's Castilla team last season, Reguilón showed his by now familiar ability to burst into positions close to the opposition area - and provide pinpoint crosses into the middle that Borja Mayoral and Raúl de Tomás should have done better with. Theo's imminent departure leaves a hole to be filled in the squad and, by playing like this, Reguilón has done his prospects of being the man to step into that breach no harm at all.


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