By Ben Hayward
The French forward is still missing for coach Zinedine Zidane and that means Los Blancos are forced to continue their preparations without him.
Real Madrid are set to be without Karim Benzema once again on Saturday in the International Champions Cup clash against Chelsea as the French forward struggles to recover from a hip problem.
Alvaro Morata will feature again after returning to Real in a buy-back deal from Juventus this summer, but Benzema is expected to miss out through injury, while Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale are both still on holiday after Euro 2016, the Portuguese sidelined anyway after injuring his knee in the final against France earlier this month.
Madrid won the Champions League at the end of May, but were brought back down to Earth on their return to action as PSG went three up in the teams’ ICC clash on Wednesday night in Columbus. And even though Marcelo pulled a goal back from the penalty spot, it was a disappointing start to pre-season for the European champions.
Zidane changed the entire XI at half-time, sending on a second string made up of homegrown players and youngsters who ended up faring better than their senior team-mates as there were no further goals in the second period.
Former Mallorca midfielder Marco Asensio was particularly impressive and the 20-year-old is now hoping to earn a place in Madrid’s squad next season instead of moving out on loan again, having spent last term at Espanyol.
"We can't have this result happening again,” Zidane said after the PSG loss. “But what we have to do and what we are trying to do, is to give our all when we play.
”We are currently in the preparation phase and we have to get up to speed, that's what pre-season is for. We know that the Liga season is a very long one and that we have to make a strong start.”
Zidane also admitted that he will have to try something else without Ronaldo, Bale and Benzema.
"We'll have to see how we line up against Chelsea," he said." We already know how we're going to set up throughout the season: three up top and three in the middle.
For Chelsea, meanwhile, this will be a fifth match in pre-season.
New coach Antonio Conte began with a surprise 2-0 loss to Rapid Vienna, but then led the Blues to big wins over fellow Austrian teams Wolfsberger AC (3-0) and Atus Ferlach (8-0) before a 1-0 victory against Liverpool in their International Champions Cup debut in Pasadena on Tuesday.
Gary Cahill scored the only goal of that game, in which Cesc Fabregas was sent off with 20 minutes left for a dangerous tackle on Ragnar Klavan, and the Catalan midfielder will now be suspended for Saturday’s match.
"I was pleased with my team because I saw the right spirit and a lot of positive things,” Conte said after the win against Liverpool. “But I know and my players know that we can improve a lot. I am pleased with the attitude and also that when we played with 10 men we didn’t suffer. Don’t forget we are working very hard with two training sessions every day and it is a good attitude.
“The most important thing was to see the right spirit in my team and the will to fight to win a friendly game. This is the right way.”
Conte reported a clean bill of health in his squad after the game at the Rose Bowl and recent signing N’Golo Kante could make his debut against Madrid after joining from Leicester earlier this month.
The Belgium international's two goals could not rescue the result for Antonio Conte's men, who were three goals down at halftime in their ICC clash.
A Marcelo double and a stunning strike from Mariano Diaz helped Real Madrid to a 3-2 victory over Chelsea in the International Champions Cup as Eden Hazard's late brace proved in vain.
European champion Madrid was beaten 3-1 by Paris Saint-Germain on Thursday, but it appeared as though the La Liga giant was in store for a comfortable win in front of a bumper crowd of 105,826 at the Michigan Stadium.
Fullback Marcelo put Zinedine Zidane's men in command with an unlikely brace, first seeing a long-range effort deflect in before adding a second with a cool finish.
The best was to come from Mariano, though, as he let fly with a fierce 25-yard strike that left Asmir Begovic helpless, putting Madrid three goals to the good after 37 minutes.
However, Chelsea threatened a late comeback when impressive substitute Hazard, much criticized for falling well below his lofty standards last term, scored twice in the last 10 minutes.
It proved too little too late and new Chelsea coach Antonio Conte, a former teammate of Zidane at Juventus, has just over a fortnight until his team's Premier League opener against West Ham. The Italian manager will be keen to see a swift defensive improvement.
Zidane himself will want to see Madrid shore up at the back, but the Blancos showed plenty of positive signs going forward as they build towards the new La Liga season.
Madrid went ahead in the 19th minute when Marcelo tried his luck with his weaker right foot and a deflection off Oscar left Begovic helpless.
The Brazil fullback had a look of disbelief when he scored again seven minutes later, coolly slotting past Begovic after a clever give and go with Marco Asensio.
There was time for another before halftime, though, and Mariano will certainly have caught Zidane's eye after receiving a pass from Marcelo and taking a touch before aiming a superb, swerving shot into the top-left corner.
Halftime substitute Michy Batshuayi showed great footwork to weave into the Madrid box and was perhaps unlucky not to get a penalty after being clattered by Nacho.
Hazard reignited Chelsea's chances with 10 minutes remaining by racing onto a ball over the top and rounding Ruben Yanez to slot into the unguarded goal.
And the attacking midfielder scored a similar goal in injury time, this time collecting Batshuayi's through ball before again taking it past Yanez to score, but Madrid held out for the win.