Watching all of Europe’s elite make their return from the summer break next weekend, clubs from across the continent are desperate to sign off their pre-season adventures with a statement of intent.
With the likes of European icons such as Juventus and Real Madrid set to meet in Orlando in the early hours of Thursday, we have another set on intriguing friendly showdowns.
On a schedule that is also highlighted by Borussia Dortmund and Chelsea’s battle in the United States, we have taken an in-depth look at a trio of heavyweight friendly matchups throughout Thursday.
Juventus vs Real Madrid
Date: Thursday, August 3rd
UK Start Time: 00:30
Venue: Camping World Stadium, Orlando
Unable to defend their La Liga crown last season and eventually dethroned by bitter rivals Barcelona, Real Madrid certainly came under plenty of scrutiny both on the domestic and European stage.
Although Carlo Ancelotti’s superstar squad might have got their hands on a 20th Copa del Rey trophy earlier in the year, the one-time AC Milan boss will know that another downbeat campaign will not be tolerated by fans around the Spanish capital.
Watching attacking talisman and reigning Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema make the move to Saudi Arabia this summer, Los Blancos are in the midst of what has been a youthful transition at the Bernabeu.
Breaking the bank as they snapped up England international Jude Bellingham in a deal worth over €100million, Ancelotti’s side still remain heavily linked with what would be a blockbuster move for a certain Kylian Mbappe before the transfer window slams shut.
However, seeking an immediate response this summer after slumping to a remarkable 3-0 drumming at the hands of Barcelona out in the United States a few days ago, Madrid do have the feel of a squad still seeking some recent stability.
With it officially announced last week that Juventus will be banned from all upcoming European tournaments, it is no secret that the Old Lady are dealing with a host of public issues behind the scenes in Turin.
Expected to be handed yet another points deduction next season following their critical financial struggles, the Italian giants almost find themselves at a crossroads and some have even started to worry about the club’s long-term future.
Although Massimiliano Allegri’s side might remain in discussions over a move for Chelsea misfit Romelu Lukaku, Juve are having to work around some major financial restraints and they have accepted that a number of their first-team superstar could still be heading for the exit.
Juventus vs Real Madrid Betting Tip: Real Madrid win
Best Odds: 4/5 with Vegas Land
Borussia Dortmund vs Chelsea
Date: Thursday, August 3rd
UK Start Time: 01:30
Venue: Soldier Field, Chicago
Enduring a public Premier League nightmare last season after missing out on any kind of European finish, Mauricio Pochettino would have always known that he faced a real challenge when arriving at Stamford Bridge this summer.
Watching a host of first-team superstars head out of the west London exit since the transfer window opened up, Chelsea are certainly going through a blockbuster transition under the one-time Tottenham boss.
However, with the likes of summer arrival Christopher Nkunku making an immediate impact since arriving at the former Premier League champions, the Blues have certainly laid down an early marker during their pre-season preparations out in the USA.
Clearly enjoying the early stages of Pochettino’s tenure in charge at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea are unbeaten in each of their four friendly showdowns this summer and they have found a clinical edge in the final third during their pre-season preparations.
Still expected to feature heavily before the summer transfer window slams shut, the ex-PSG manager will be calling on his squad to make another statement when they sign off their summer adventure in midweek.
However, while Borussia Dortmund might have endured an infamous Bundesliga collapse at the final hurdle last season, the German heavyweights certainly aren’t showing any signs of a summer hangover.
Although BVB missed out on what was a golden chance to get their hands on a first domestic crown in over a decade, Edin Terzic’s men did gain a string of plaudits from across Germany and they are desperate to mount yet another charge next year.
Already welcoming both Marcel Sabitzer and Felix Nmecha to Signal Iduna Park, the one-time West Ham coach has seen his squad remarkably win each of their five pre-season appearances by an aggregate score of 22-5.
Likewise, last seen a few days ago claiming an action-packed 3-2 win against Manchester United, Dortmund will be desperate to pick up another heavyweight Premier League scalp in the early hours of Thursday.
Borussia Dortmund vs Chelsea Betting Tip: Chelsea draw no bet
Best Odds: 4/6 with Luckster
Aston Villa vs Lazio
Date: Thursday, August 3rd
UK Start Time: 19:30
Venue: Bescot Stadium, Walsall
Punching a stunning Europa Conference League ticket last season and gaining a string of plaudits, Aston Villa have only gone from strength to strength since they welcomed Unai Emery to the Midlands back in October.
Arguably producing the best business of any Premier League club so far this summer as they recruited the likes of Pau Torres and Youri Tielemans, the one-time Arsenal boss certainly finds the mood in his squad at a red-hot high.
Unbeaten in each of their four friendly appearances so far this summer and with some in their camp even dreaming of the chance to mount a famous top-four charge next season, Villa have also seen new recruit Moussa Diaby make an immediate impact since arriving a fortnight ago.
Finding the net in back-to-back friendly showdowns out in the United States, the former Bayer Leverkusen ace appears to be spearheading a Villa side that have enjoyed a real free-scoring flurry during their summer preparations.
Watching Lazio claim a stunning silver medal finish in Serie A last season and cruising their way to a lucrative Champions League return, the Eagles find themselves in a very similar position to their Premier League counterparts.
While the Italian giants might have been left frustrated this summer as they were forced to watch midfield talisman Sergej Milinkovic-Savic head out to Saudi Arabia in a €40million deal, they have enjoyed an impressive rise under ex-Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri.
With some around the Stadio Olimpico feeling that their side could genuinely challenge Napoli next season and make a real charge to get their hands on a first domestic crown since 2000, Lazio will have taken plenty of positives away from an electric pre-season romp.
In fact, including a 5-0 victory against Slovakian outfit Primorje last month, Sarri’s men have won each of their three friendly appearances this summer by an aggregate score of 9-0.
Aston Villa vs Lazio Betting Tip: Both teams to score
Best Odds: 4/7 with Dachbet