Real Madrid’s Ancelotti to try new formation on U.S. tour

Carlo Ancelotti has said he plans to trial a new formation during Real Madrid’s U.S. tour this month, as the coach looks to fit new arrivals like Jude Bellingham into the team ahead of the 2023-24 season.

A busy summer so far has seen midfielder Bellingham, forward Joselu, playmakers Arda Guler and Brahim Díaz and full-back Fran García join Madrid, while Karim Benzema, Marco Asensio, Eden Hazard and Mariano Díaz all departed as their contracts expired.

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“When I started coaching I had a clear idea, and I didn’t adapt to the players I had,” Ancelotti told a news conference on Friday, when asked if he’d consider a change of system.

“I had an experience at Parma, where [Roberto] Baggio wanted to play as a playmaker and I didn’t change the system. He went to another team. And I was wrong.”

Madrid’s summer business means the squad is currently overloaded in midfield, with at least seven players — Bellingham, Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, Eduardo Camavinga, Aurélien Tchouaméni, Federico Valverde and Dani Ceballos — all competing for places.

Ancelotti has tended to favour a 4-3-3 formation throughout his time at Madrid, but there has been speculation that Bellingham’s signing could signal a switch to a midfield diamond.

“At Juventus, with [Zinedine] Zidane, I started to understand that it’s better to adapt to the players,” Ancelotti said. “Players have to feel comfortable. I adapted and I’m still adapting.

“This year we might play a different system. The system we have played with has been very successful, but we can try a new style. We’re going to try it on the tour. It’s a good time to do so.”

The Italian praised the impact of Bellingham, 20, in preseason training so far, after his €103 million ($115.9m) signing from Borussia Dortmund.

“He’s different to the other midfielders we have,” Ancelotti said. “We are very happy that he’s with us. He raises the level at Real Madrid. He works hard, he’s doing well and he will play on the tour.”

Madrid will kick off their involvement in the Soccer Champions Tour when facing AC Milan in Pasadena, California, on July 23 before playing Manchester United in Houston on July 26, Barcelona in Arlington, Texas, on July 29 and Juventus in Orlando, Florida, on Aug. 2.

Barca were crowned LaLiga champions last season, finishing 10 points clear of second-placed Madrid.

“It doesn’t matter where [the Clasico with Barcelona] is played, there are no friendlies in a game like this,” Ancelotti said. “It’s always a special match.

“We saw it last year in a fantastic atmosphere and I’m sure we’ll see it this year in Dallas… There are no friendlies between Real Madrid and Barcelona and there never will be.”

A tour of the United States has been Madrid’s preferred preseason itinerary in recent years. Ancelotti praised the “fantastic” facilities at the University of California, Los Angeles, where Madrid will begin training next week.

“Football in the U.S. has to compete with very popular sports,” he said. “The signing of [Lionel] Messi by Inter Miami could help its standing… I have a bad memory of the Rose Bowl [where Madrid will play Milan] because I lost the 1994 World Cup final against Brazil there. I’m sure there will be a good atmosphere.”

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