For opposing coach Zinedine Zidane and the rest of the Real Madrid contingent, there will one face that stands out from the crowd: Orlando City midfielder Kaká, who spent four seasons with Los Blancos earlier in his illustrious career.
“Obviously, it’ll be nice to see Kaká,” Zidane told reporters through a translator Sunday after Real Madrid’s loss on penalty kicks to Manchester United in an International Champions Cup exhibition.
“He’s an important player in the history of Real Madrid. It’ll be nice for his ex-teammates so see him, as well.”
Of Zidane’s starting XI on Sunday – Real’s first match after sweeping to four titles last season, including a first-ever repeat as UEFA Champions League winners – five overlapped with Kaka at the Bernabéu, including Karim Benzema, Marcelo and Luka Modric. A sixth such player, Real stalwart Sergio Ramos, is “almost ready” after dealing with an ear problem, Zidane said, and presumably could see the field against the MLS All-Stars on Aug. 2 (8:30 pm ET | FS1, Univision in the US, TSN in Canada).
While Kaká, named to the Fan XI, may have slowed at 35 years of age, coach Veljko Paunovic’s squad will bring a different challenge to Real’s preseason training – a match against a club full of players in mid-season form, rather than another European side trying to find its footing and conditioning.
“We know it’s a team [whose players are] in competition,” Zidane said, “but for us the most important thing is to continue to play well and give everyone time to get better, improve our physical condition and hopefully give a great game for the fans.”