A lot of changes happening and a new season to prepare for has gotten Madridistas talking constantly about how they feel about the transfers and the upcoming matches. Before the La Liga season even begins, Los Merengues have the opportunity to win two trophies as they play against Manchester United in the European Super Cup and then Barcelona in the Spanish Super Cup.
It has been an interesting summer so far and it’s always great to see how others feel about it. Therefore, I sent a few questions to Miran Savic (@therealbozz) and Jaime Ventura (@jaimitoelcrack7) to see what they think ahead of the new season.
** Please note that this was done before the confirmed sale of Alvaro Morata to Chelsea
1. Introduce yourself.
Miran Savic: Hi there, my name is Miran, I’m a Madrid fan of approximately 20 years and my twitter handle is @therealbozz.
Jaime Ventura: Hello! Jaime Ventura here. I’m on twitter at @jaimitoelcrack7. I am a Real Madrid supporter currently based in the U.S. I’ve been supporting Madrid since the early 90s (I know, I’m old).
2. What are your feelings about our overall business in the transfer window so far?
Miran: Barring any additional sales, and we all know there’s still a lot of summer left, I think this has been a near perfect summer for the club. They addressed their two major needs at backup LB and DM while shedding big salary in Pepe and James. I think those two players could’ve still had a role to play, but I don’t fault the club from moving on.
Jaime: I think Florentino has been very shrewd. Theo gives us a second left back which we haven’t really had the last couple of seasons. Ceballos has been great for Betis for a while but obviously his performances at the Euro U21 tournament showcased what a big talent he is. The cost has not been exorbitant either. Vallejo and Llorente coming back from their loan spells will add a lot to the squad as well. I’m not too worried about Mbappé. Hard to see how he fits into the puzzle unless Ronaldo or Bale leaves anyway. I was hoping for De Gea but I think that ship has sailed (again).
3. Which signing is your favorite from the following: Jesus Vallejo, Marcos Llorente, Dani Ceballos, or Theo Hernandez?
Miran: I think Llorente and Theo fill the biggest needs, but I feel Vallejo has the highest ceiling and the potential to be the bedrock upon which this club is built for the next 10 years. He’s a generational talent for sure.
Jaime: I love Llorente. I have been a big fan of his since his days in the Juvenil A team. He did a couple of preseason tours with the first team and every time I saw him play he looked the part. He was superb for Alavés last term and I think he gives a really different sort of alternative to Casemiro.
4. From the above names mentioned, which player do you feel will have the most impact on the upcoming season?
Miran: My hope is that it’s Llorente as I prefer his skillset to Casemiro’s, but I think Theo will absolutely run rampant when given the chance and as Marcelo has been run into the ground the past two years, I think chances for Theo will be plentiful.
Jaime: I think Vallejo might end up playing the most minutes. With Pepe gone and Varane having injury problems in the past, it could be an open casting to see who will partner Sergio Ramos. I don’t mean to forget about Nacho who is also very solid. But I think Vallejo is going to surprise a lot people.
5. What is your expectation for the upcoming European Super Cup?
Miran: A competitive match, hopefully a win, but little stress if it’s not a victory.
Jaime: If José is involved I’m sure it will be an intense match. It would be great to win our own ‘Sextete’ but either way I think it will be a great early test for the players.
6. What is your expectation for the upcoming Spanish Super Cup?
Miran: This is one that I’d love to have under the club’s belt as any title won over Barca would be a plus for me. I want a win.
Jaime: Again, I expect really intense, competitive matches. A clásico demands it. Real Madrid are facing Barça in a preseason friendly a few weeks before that in Miami so it will be interesting to see this match up three times before the actual season even begins. Obviously we’ll pummel them.
7. Last season, Los Blancos made history for winning the UEFA Champions League for the second time in a row. Do you think that they can make it a third time this season?
Miran: I didn’t think they could do it last season and I’m feeling the same this time around. City and Chelsea are loading up, Bayern will be in year two under Carlo, Juve’s still strong and Atleti and Barca know how to beat this club. The field is just too strong.
Jaime: Honestly I didn’t expect them to win it in back-to-back seasons since it had not been done since AC Milan won it in 1989 and 1990. A lot has to go right in order to lift the trophy in consecutive years. But they did it. So I won’t rule anything out this year.
8. What are you most worried about in the upcoming season?
Miran: Everyone being happy as a rotation option again and the roster not being able to replicate the chemistry of last season. Also, Barca’s thriving under Valverde.
Jaime: This is two years in a row now with all of the additional fixtures resulting from winning the league and the Champions League. The Club World Cup, in particular, always requires a lot of traveling right in the middle of the season.
9. Do you feel that Zidane may suffer this season as many other managers may have ‘figured him out’?
Miran: I think there’ll be a down period as the honeymoon can’t last forever, but I’m no longer underestimating his abilities like I used to.
Jaime: I think if other managers were going to figure him out, they would have done so by now. I don’t mean that in a bad way. But he doesn’t vary the tactics too much. Instead he excels in motivating the players and making sure they are in top physical condition and that has been the key to the team’s success, not changing from 4-3-3 to 3-4-3 to 4-5-1 every other .
10. If you could add one more signing to the squad, who would it be? Why?
Miran: David De Gea. I’ve nothing but respect and admiration for Keylor Navas but I feel like goalkeeper is the one spot where this club could reasonability stand to upgrade. Also, age factor is something to be mindful of.
Jaime: I really wanted De Gea. Keylor Navas was very good toward the end of the season but he had his ups and downs early on. Kiko Casilla is a reliable back up. But I don’t think we have a goalkeeper for the future. I like Kepa from Athletic Bilbao.
11. If there had to be one departure from the squad, who would it be? Why?
Miran: Ceballos on loan maybe? Honestly, all these players are useful but if someone had to go, I think Ceballos could use another year of development as the main man somewhere.
Jaime: I think probably Kovačić. I just think with Ceballos there are too many midfielders.
12. What do you feel is missing at Real Madrid?
Miran: A better medical staff. That’s it.
Jaime: Real Madrid might have the best squad they’ve ever had. I think Zidane just needs to sort out who will be the second right back and who will be the second center forward.
13. Who do you feel is the most overrated Real Madrid player? Most underrated?
Miran: Tough to say who’s overrated, perhaps Casemiro? I think he’s vital but his skillset is rather rudimentary and he’s too reactionary of a player in his tackles rather than proactive. Underrated would be Mateo Kovacic for me. A bad narrative that he’s a headless chicken, tactically-speaking, is developing and I simply cannot agree with that.
Jaime: These questions are hard. I guess I will say Bale. In the sense that he missed so much of the season last year with injuries and yet the team did just fine without him. Still everyone wants to talk about the BBC. Carvajal I think is still underrated. He creates so much down the right wing. His crossing is superb. He plays with guts. I think the team really suffers when he isn’t on the pitch.
14. Who is your most favorite player in the team? Least favorite?
Miran: Favorite would be Luka Modric or Karim Benzema, though Gareth Bale and Isco are right up there too. Least favorite is tough because I like all the guys but if pressed I might have to say Casemiro. Still a fan though.
Jaime: My favorite player is Isco. I don’t know, I just love the way he plays. He reminds me a little bit of Guti in that he is really talented but has a hard time breaking in to the XI because of so many other great players. When Isco played consistently I think he responded with very good performances. The goal against Atlético in the Champions League was a big moment! Least favorite is Coentrão (since we technically still own him haha).
15. Anything else that you would like to add about the upcoming season?
Miran: I think this could be a very special season, especially with so many guys have a free summer with no national team duty to hold them back. It’ll be very interesting to see if Zinedine Zidane has taken this time to grow tactically in order to present something new to the many opponents this club will face this season. Overall, I think fans should sit back and enjoy a very special time in Real Madrid history!
Jaime: The dark days of Ramón Calderón signing Julien Faubert seem like the distant past!