Manchester United 2-1 Real Madrid | Tactical snippets

Manchester United 2-1 Real Madrid | FI

Manchester United and Real Madrid faced off in the International Champions Cup in their pre-season friendly schedule. Coincidentally, this match happened to be United’s last and Madrid’s first game in this pre-season tour. Madrid were understandably deprived of many of their starters while United were fielded in their usual lineup that has been seen in these friendlies. The match was interesting on a tactical front as Madrid were playing under Lopetgui’s positional play system while United were set out once again in their 3-5-2 formation, seen previously in their games against Milan and Liverpool.


Manchester United 2-1 Real Madrid | FI

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Tactical Breakdown:

  • Real Madrid have displayed elements of positional play in their game, with bright moments in buildup. Llorente dropping into backline for numerical superiority was a stark highlight while Ceballos dragging his marker to open lane for Valverde to receive also stood out especially in the first half. The winger and the fullback always occupied different zones for spacing reasons, a feature of positional play.
  • Manchester United have been able to exploit the spaces in Madrid’s defensive shape, left due to their high pressing of United in their own half. Good spacing in their 3-5-2 shape, combined with good pass selection and intelligent off the ball movement by Mata have been key.


Pre season friendlies are never to be taken as the sole metric to judge a side, but there were positives on offer for both clubs. Lopetgui seems to have instilled a strict positional play principle in the squad that needs refreshing tactically while United won their first match on the tour on the back of a strong first half performance. Good minutes under the belt for both sides as they shall be moving on to their next game and the season ahead. An interesting season lies ahead for both the teams.