Wins over MLS side Colorado Rapids, Bayern Munich and Fiorentina have seen our US tour kick off to a roaring success.
Tests against established sides and stringent physical workouts can only stand our side in good stead, but what is perhaps most pleasing is how our kids have taken to the task.
Pitting themselves against players much older, wiser and far more experienced has done nothing to blunt their enthusiasm and sheer talent, and from these three fixtures, the future looks bright.
Now though, they will take on arguably the biggest side in the world in Real Madrid.
Jo Willock, Tyreece John-Jules, Bukayo Saka, Robbie Burton, Dominic Thompson, Zech Medley and James Olayinka have played plenty of minutes thus far and will hope to be involved for the opportunity to take on the might Real Madrid, but will Unai Emery name a more experienced lineup?
The kids deserve the opportunity after performing so well so far, but winning is a habit and Emery will be keen to maintain the confidence levels that are soaring within the group.
So who gets the spots?
Emile Smith-Rowe is fit again and could play a small part. The young playmaker Is highly rated by all and a return to fitness right now couldn’t be better timed.
Robbie Burton was a surprise inclusion to the tour, never mind the starting lineup but the youngster hasn’t put a foot wrong. It is likely though, that our midfield will have a sprinkling of experience this time around. Granit Xhaka will most likely come in, but the other spot is very much up for grabs.
In attack, surely Eddie Nketiah will get the nod after his two goal show against Fiorentina, although Lacazette’s second half appearance really made a huge difference. Reiss Nelson could get a shout, but most likely it will see Henrikh Mkhitaryan grab the shirt on the flank, with Mesut Ozil coming in to face his former side.
Player to Watch
The young striker is the talk of Madrid after last season, when he was a rare bright spot in a dismal season for Los Blancos. Rapid, a magical first touch and an eye for goal, his age doesn’t hold him back. It is thought that in a few years he will be among the best in the business, but right now he will just be eager to play more and that means doing the business in friendlies. Slack off at the back and he will snaffle possession and hurt us.
How This Could Go
Win this game and our optimism levels will deservedly soar. Of course, this is yet another friendly so how much stock we take from it is arguable, but Real Madrid, coached by the great Zinedine Zidane, is always a test.
Playing the possession game will play into Madrid’s hands, but sitting back and waiting to counter will invite pressure – pressure that will eventually unlock us.
The likes of Isco, Hazard, Asensio, they are all world class players who need just a second to make us pay. The same could be said for Bayern though, and we defeated them.
If Ozil, Aubameyang and Lacazette play, we will need their foot on the ball and their calm heads. They too only need a spare moment to bring the pain, but they will be trying to find their match rhythm too.
That could leave the game hinging on sub changes. With our more established players starting it means our pacy wingers in Reiss Nelson and Bukayo Sako could make the difference coming on in the second half, facing tired legs.
This will be interesting!
Predicted Lineup – Leno, Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, Chambers, Monreal, Xhaka, Olayinka, Mkhitaryan, Ozil, Aubameyang, Lacazette
Predicted Scoreline – 3-2 to The Arsenal