I guess we can get a little bit excited about Fiorentina’s first chance to win a piece of silverware, however meaningless, since taking the totally serious and not absurd Costa del Sol UNESCO trophy for a win over Malaga in 2014, which really brought the team together as they finally won a home for Giuseppe Rossi.
So, while the Trofeo Santiago Bernabéu isn’t really a real thing, it’d make a nice addition to the silverware cabinet.
The match will be played Wednesday, 23 August 2017, at 9:45 PM GMT/4:45 PM EST, at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu in Madrid, Spain.
Fresh off smashing Deportivo la Coruña in the league opener on Sunday, it looks like Zinedine Zidane’s men are picking up right where they left off last year, when they rolled through La Liga without too much difficulty. They also walloped Barcelona in the Supercopa over two legs last week, so expect the capitol club to be ready to rumble. However, with another league fixture against Valencia looming, Zidane will probably roll out a B-team to keep his stars rested.
The problem with that, of course, is that a Real Madrid B-team is approximately 3 times as expensive as a Fiorentina A-team, and the Viola don’t have BA Baracus. The star attraction should be Cristiano Ronaldo, who’s suspended for another 4 competitive matches after shoving a ref in the Supercopa and will doubtless be hungry for some match action. Honestly, that’s probably all we need to know about that.
Zidane will probably set out in his usual 4-3-3 with class all over the park. It’ll mostly be the backups, the kids, and Ronaldo, but again, that’s plenty of firepower for what looks like a disjointed Viola side. Los Blancos will probably pass the ball around the middle to lull the Gigliati, then ruthlessly break into the box. As usual, the focus for the Madrid outfit will be their blazing speed in transition.
Having been smashed by Inter Milan in the Serie A opener, it makes sense to go up against a much better opponent days later to try and get some confidence back. (Gulp.) While it’s nice of Real to invite the Viola back to the Bernabéu for the 60th anniversary of their first meeting, it might not have been a terrible idea for Stefano Pioli and company to take a rain-check. This could be brutal.
Pioli will still be missing Riccardo Saponara and Matías Fernández through injury, although Milan Badelj may be healthy enough to play and Federico Chiesa will return from suspension. Since this is a friendly, there should be some pretty heavy squad rotation, partly to keep the starters fresh for the home opener against a talented Sampdoria side, and partly as a way to save face: “Well, sure Real Madrid beat us 26-0, but we were playing our young guys instead of our starters. We totally could have kept it to 14-0 if we’d brought in the big guns.”
Expect a redux of the 4-2-3-1, although it’s hard to guess who Pioli will pick. He could trot out his first XI—whatever that is—to allow them to get to know each other better on the pitch. He could also trot out a bunch of teenagers (the ones who aren’t already starters) and treat this as an audition for the first team, and as motivation for the starters. My gut says it’ll probably a half of the former, and then a half of the latter, but my gut has been known to lie.
How to watch
TV: Unless you shell out for Real Madrid TV or have the Italian Channel 5, then no.
Online: Here is a (short) list of safe, legal, and reliable streams. Links to illegal streams posted in the comments will be deleted, and anyone posting them will be banned. Keep it in the comments section for in-game discussion with your fellow Viola fans.
Ted’s Memorial Blind Guess Department
No. I refuse to write anything here. Go away.