As European seasons are closer to kicking off, the quality of friendlies that teams are playing is rising and Wednesday will feature quite a clash between Manchester United and Real Madrid. With both taking part in Champions League this coming season, squad rotations have to be set early on which is easier said than done considering new additions to each squad. Without Karim Benzema, who is now in Saudi Arabia, Real Madrid are searching for a short-term talisman which Federico Valverde may be able to provide after his brace versus AC Milan. Also integrating Jude Bellingham into midfield, there are quite a few questions for Carlo Ancelotti to answer.
Manchester United are settled in comparison but a backup striker is still needed and there are quite a few questions surrounding the defense, even after a shutout victory over Arsenal. Also, integrating Mason Mount into his attack is key as Erik ten Hag will have a few things to look out for in the match.
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Here’s our storylines, how you can watch the match and more:
How to watch and odds
Date: Wednesday, July 26 | Time: 8:30 p.m.
Location: NRG Stadium — Houston, Texas
Live stream: ESPN+
Real Madrid: While rumors of Kylian Mbappe swirl, it has been hard for Real Madrid to have what can be considered a normal preseason. From advances for Luka Modric from Saudi Arbia and Ancelloti Brazil to Benzema’s departure, Los Blancos will need to reinvent themselves ahead of the season to recapture La Liga. They were able to do it post-Cristiano Ronaldo and can certainly figure things out again this season but there is more uncertainty surrounding Real Madrid than normal. Facing United will provide the team with a good litmus test because there isn’t much time until the La Liga season starts.
Manchester United: This preseason has been a good time for ten Hag to get a look at younger players on his roster. Depth is critical with the team taking part in Champions League and the more that players like Kobbie Mainoo can do, the better. There is open space in midfield with the departure of Marcel Sabitzer while Fred and Scott McTominay could also leave before the season begins making this quite a time for youth to step up to see who will be behind Christian Eriksen, Casemiro and Mount.
With no one wanting to get injured in the match, expect more high-scoring fireworks as goals rain in from both sides. Pick: Real Madrid 3, Manchester United 2
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