August 22, 2019
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Roma: Madrid’s last test ahead of new season

Madrid, Aug 10 (efe-epa).- Real Madrid’s seventh and final preseason friendly against Roma will be a barometer to measure the improvement the Spanish club has made ahead of the coming season.

With one week to go before Madrid kicks off its La Liga season with an encounter against Celta Vigo, French coach Zinedine Zidane has yet to put together the ideal lineup after a poor start to the preseason.

Madrid won two consecutive games, against Fenerbahce and Red Bull Salzburg, after many back-to-back defeats including a 7-3 loss to Atletico Madrid.

The crushing defeat to their hometown rival was the first Madrid derby to be played outside Europe.

The second defeat was to Tottenham Hotspur.

Defense issues were one of the things Zidane has been trying to sort out, after his team conceded 16 goals in five matches.

The French coach switched to the 3-5-2 playing system in Madrid’s 1-0 win over Salzburg, a method that also helped newcomer Eden Hazard to be more involved in the game.

It worked out as Madrid did not concede any goals in the match.

Much of the credit for that, however, goes to the return of Casemiro, following his successful run with Brazil at the 2019 Copa America.

During the 45 minutes he spent on the pitch, he reminded fans of his importance in the team.

The Belgian also scored his first goal with Madrid to reassure fans as he seemed to be out of shape earlier in the preseason.

He seemed to have a link with French forward Karim Benzema on the field.

Hazard will put on the number seven shirt, which had been worn by Mariano Díaz, who has seemingly fallen out of favor with Zidane.

Since joining the team earlier in the summer, Hazard played with number 50 awaiting possible departures.

On the opposite end of the pitch will be Roma, who has had a different preseason.

The Italian team has earned four wins and was held to a draw in five matches it has played in the preseason.

Although these games were against easier opponents, they have helped to lay the foundation of a new project led by Portuguese coach Paulo Fonseca.

Fonseca seems to count on Edin Dzeko, despite media reports that link him with a move to Inter Milan.

Against Roma, Zidane will focus on the players he has, amid media reports of Neymar joining the Spanish club and the possible arrival of Dutchman Van de Beek.

Besides Mariano, he was without Gareth Bale or James Rodriguez, as both were left out the squad for the Salzburg game.

Roma brings good memories to Zidane.

At the Stadio Olimpico, he made his UEFA Champions League debut as a coach in the first leg of the last-16 in the 2015/2016 season.

At the end of that season, he led the team to its 11th Champions League title.

Zidane also made his Champions League debut as a Madrid player against Roma at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in the round-robin of the 2001/2002 season.

The Spanish team wrapped up its preparations on Saturday before traveling on Sunday to Rome. EFE-EPA

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