As they prepare for the return of LaLiga Santander, Real Madrid held another behind-closed-doors and unbroadcast friendly at Valdebebas on Friday, following the 1-1 draw they had with Leganés last week. This time, it was another draw, a 0-0 against Quique Sánchez Flores’ side. Here comes a look at some of the questions this friendly has thrown up.

Three answers

1. Would this starting XI be different from the Leganés one?

Real Madrid had already played a friendly eight days ago, also behind closed doors and with Leganés the opponents on that occasion. For that game, Carlo Ancelotti only had 11 first-team players available. Since then, though, several more World Cup internationals have returned, giving the Italian more options. As such, there were four changes to the starting XI for today’s Getafe friendly, with Thibaut Courtois, Marco Asensio, Fede Valverde and Eden Hazard all coming into the side. That produced the following starting XI: Courtois; Lucas Vázquez, Nacho, Alaba, Mendy; Valverde, Kroos, Ceballos; Asensio, Benzema, Hazard.

2. Who is still missing from the squad?

Although Ancelotti has most of his squad back, including the back-from-injury Ferland Mendy, there are still some World Cup participants missing. The Brazilians Éder Militão, Vinícius and Rodrygo, who exited the World Cup at the quarter-final stage, are due to return to training on Monday December 26th, before Luka Modrić, Eduardo Camavinga and Aurélien Tchouaméni, who were at the World Cup until the final weekend, will be back later next week and cutting it fine to be ready for the Real Valladolid trip.

3. Who was the best Real Madrid performer vs Getafe?

In terms of how the match went, there isn’t much information about this closed-doors and unbroadcast game, but it has emerged that Getafe were the much better side and that they probably deserved to win. That’s normal, considering Getafe are much further along with their physical preparation than Real Madrid and have even already played a competitive fixture since the end of the World Cup, beating Diocesano 2-0 in the Copa del Rey on Tuesday. In terms of the best Real Madrid performers, Marco Asensio reportedly had a lively performance, while the 18-year-old Nico Paz was one of the best players off the bench.

Three questions

1. How long was the game? 60 minutes of 90 minutes?

These kinds of matches are very secretive, so much so that’s it’s not even entirely clear how long this game actually lasted! The one against Leganés last Thursday was just 60 minutes in length, with two halves of 30 minutes. Here, though, the information we have is that the friendly against Getafe was 90 minutes, with two normal halves of 45 minutes. That would make sense, as Real Madrid look to increase the players’ match fitness. However, the official Real Madrid website stated that the Getafe friendly was also just 60 minutes. That goes against the other information we have, and that other outlets have also reported, so it’s all a bit confusing and probably a mistake on the Real Madrid’s website’s end.

2. Who is Nico Paz?

As mentioned above, Nico Paz had a good performance coming off the bench. Even if you follow Castilla, that name might not be too familiar, since he is actually still officially registered with the Juvenil side coached by Álvaro Arbeloa. There, he scored five goals in five goals in this season’s UEFA Youth League. He has been promoted up to Castilla several times, playing seven matches for Raúl’s team, and this Friday’s unofficial friendly was his first appearance for the first team. Still just 18, the attacking midfielder has even made a Lionel Scaloni squad list for the Argentina senior squad, as the world champions are keen to have him commit to Argentina. Even though the teenager was born in Tenerife in Spain, his father Pablo Paz was a former Argentina international and has clearly passed down his talent to his son.

3. Will Real Madrid play any other warm-up matches?

After the test against Leganés on December 15th and this one against Getafe on December 23rd, Real Madrid are now expected to play no more friendly matches before their return to official action, which will be next Friday, December 30th, away at Real Valladolid in LaLiga Santander. The squad will enjoy some extra time off over Christmas weekend and will then have a normal week of training at Valdebebas to prepare for the Friday night match, a fixture that will both mark the return of club football and the end of what was a glorious 2022 for Los Blancos.



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