UEFA Super Cup – Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid

Apart from the English Premier League, the UEFA Super Cup kick’s off the football in Europe and what can be a befitting start than a Madrid derby. Though there is a cup at stake, I don’t think the team management rates this tournament that seriously to go all out to win this match. Let me rephrase this – heaven will not fall, if one of these teams fails to win this tournament. However, the football was quite entertaining and had elements of end-to-end play with a total of 6 goals!

Now coming to the salient points in today’s match:

  • Atletico playing a conventional 4-4-2 whereas Real with 4-2-3-1 with Casemiro and Kroos playing withdrawn halves and Benzema as the lone striker. At the end of the first half, Real had more possession (63%), more shots at goal. However at the end of the match after extra time, Real had a slight edge in terms of ball possession (58%) with 6 shots on target against Atletico’s 5 shots on target. This showed, how Atletico came back strongly in the match, specially during the first half of the extra time. What is more exciting for Atletico is that they came back without Griezman on the field who just played the first half.
  • If we see the heatmap of the match (see below), Real Madrid’s attacks were mainly through the wings and they were relying on Gareth Bale, Marcelo, Asensio to make those deadly crosses for Benzema to capitalise upon. This worked in their first goal definitely. However, Atletico has multiple plans in play – both wing plays as well as trying penetration through the middle. So while Real had a degree of predictability in their attacks, Atletico kept their opponents guessingCapture
  • It looked that Atletico had more hunger to win this cup as compared to Real Madrid. The scoreline showed this – while leading 1-0, they were behind 1-2, then they came back from behind to win the match 4-2. Further, looking at the bench of Real Madrid during the extra time, the players looked disinterested, not even watching the match with heads down. To me, this was quite surprising.
  • On paper, even without CR7, Real Madrid was a much stronger team any day. If you see the first eleven of Real, except for Gareth Bale and Benzema, the rest 9 have recently represented their countries in the 2018 FIFA world cup. So, if this was a lack of motivation for this match for Real, the management will be happy. On the other hand, if the outcome is due to technical abilities, then I am sure all Real supporters will be worried to hell!
    • Navas for Costa Rica
    • Carvajal, Ramos, Isco, Asensio for Spain
    • Varane for France
    • Marcelo, Casemiro for Brazil
    • Kroos for Germany
  • If we see the number of world cup finalists players playing today, the number of 5 is quite high – isn’t it ? Almost 25% of the playing 22 coming from the world cup finalists! France got represented through Varane, Griezmann, Thomas Lemar, Lucas Hernandez, while for Croatia it was Modric
  •  One of the major attraction was the duel between Sergio Ramos and Diego Costa. Both plays physical football, both are fearless and both have a fragile temperament which can explode any moment. So the physical duels added to the passion of today’s match. At the end of the day, Diego Costa showed that a phyiscally strong in-the-box classical striker is always important in modern football, thanks to his two goals today. He also proved that if you have enough power behind your shot, you can still score goals in almost zero degree situations.
  • FIFA probably needs to come up with clear clarification on the interpretation of handballs, specially inside the penalty box. As of today, there is a lot of subjectivity on whether it was a “deliberate” handball or not – and hence whether this is a penalty or not. Now it all depends on the referee’s interpretation, which has resulted in lot of inconsistencies across matches. We have seen that in the World Cup (even with VAR in place) and also today. To me, it was definitely not a penalty as it was not deliberate, but the referee thought otherwise resulting in Sergio Ramos goal through the second half penalty in the 63rd minute of the game.
  • At the end, I am not sure how Real Madrid will cope with their two big losses – Cristiano Ronaldo and Zidane as their manager. The impact of both will be big not only on the field, but also off the field and their feeling of invincibility.

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