Real Madrid Win Spanish Super Cup in Saudi Arabia

Spanish Super Cup in Saudi Arabia

Real Madrid have emerged victorious from the Spanish Super Cup which was controversially hosted in Saudi Arabia. They won 4-1 on penalties after a hard-fought contest against Atletico Madrid.

Real Madrid Win Spanish Super Cup in Saudi Arabia

Change in Format

The Spanish Super Cup came to a close today, after a change in format. Instead of occurring in Spain in August between the winners of the domestic cup and the league, the Spanish Super Cup took place in Saudi Arabia and included four teams. These were the winners of the Copa Del Rey and the top three teams from La Liga. This change of format has not best pleased many, with the Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde especially critical. He said that the Spanish FA were doing it for money, and that profit is all football seems to be about anymore.

Real Madrid finished third in the league last year but still managed to cruise past domestic cup winners Valencia. Atletico Madrid, however, had to come back to beat Barcelona with two goals in the game’s concluding fifteen minutes. These results set up a Madrid derby in the final. A derby though it may be, Atletico and Real’s previous two clashes in finals have gone to extra time. This was the third.

How it Looked Before Kick-Off

Real Madrid were missing two key players heading into this one. An in-form Karim Benzema seemed the biggest miss, however, Gareth Bale can produce moments of magic for the Spanish giants, and could have provided them with more creativity. Atletico were also missing important players. Former Chelsea goalscorer Diego Costa is a long term absentee, while Thomas Lemar picked up a hamstring injury recently, and was not fit to play. Due to Real Madrid’s very strong midfield, it looked possible that they were going to dominate Atleti and wait for them to crack. This is how it played out for much of the match.

Real Madrid’s First Half Dominance

It was a dominant performance from Real Madrid throughout the majority of the match. They had set up to put the pressure onto Atletico, and the Red and Whites were happy to soak it up. Atleti did, however, pressurise Real Madrid, and gained some chances from this tactic.

Early in the match, for example, Joao Felix applied pressure onto Sergio Ramos and forced a mistake out of him. He got the ball inside the penalty area but couldn’t capitalize on the Spaniard’s mistake. Real’s dominance in the first half brought them 70 per cent possession and over double the number of passes as Atletico. Despite this, they did not have any clear cut chances, and the most notable moment was Ramos’ slip up. It went into the break looking likely to go to extra time if it continued going in the same direction.

Not Much Variation Going into the Second Half

Despite what might be expected, not much changed in the second half. Once again, Real had much of the ball. There was, however, a slight difference. The game opened up a little more. Early substitutions were made in the second period in order to liven up the game, and they, along with a slight change in mentality, did. Many more chances occurred in the second half.

Despite a disappointing first half, Rodrygo Silva de Goes had a very good chance in the second half’s opening five minutes. Furthermore, Morata had one of the game’s best chances saved near the end of normal time. As the game’s 90 minute period of normal time drew to a close it was still Real Madrid who had dominated, but Atletico had looked dangerous too, and an interesting period of extra time was to follow

All Change in Extra Time

As extra time started it was clear that no team wanted to go to penalties. The extra thirty minutes saw incredible saves from both goalkeepers as well as a tactical sending off.

Real Madrid may have dominated the first 90 minutes of the match, but it was all even in extra time. Chance after chance was the story of the extra period, and both goalkeepers look like the strongest contenders for man of the match. Jan Oblak helped keep Real Madrid out of the Atletico Madrid goal with some decent saves under pressure, while Thibaut Courtois was incredibly impressive in the net for Loc Blancos. The Belgian has not had the best time in Madrid, however he was vastly impressive tonight, with world-class saves coming in left right and centre in extra time.

Real Madrid central midfielder Federico Valverde was dismissed following a reckless challenge on Alvaro Morata. The Spanish striker was through on goal, but Valverde made a professional foul; taking him to the ground from behind. There was no doubt that it was a red card. This was a turning point in the game, as Morata would surely have scored if he’d been allowed to take the shot.

Despite the attacking nature of the extra period, no side managed to find the back of the net. Thus, the teams had to go to a penalty shootout.

Penalties

From the beginning of the shootout, Real were clinical. It was Atletico to slip up first, as Saul Niguez missed his penalty. Another Atletico miss followed that, and although Kieran Tierney’s powerful penalty found the side netting before hitting the back, he could not do anything about Sergio Ramos’ cool penalty into the goal’s bottom right-hand corner.

It was certainly worth waiting through the dull first half to see the remaining thirty minutes of play. Though the play was slow and laborious throughout much of the game’s opening 90 minutes, it opened up in extra time, and we saw incredible shots, world-class saves, and even a red card. Atletico once again experienced the agony of seeing their bitter city rivals beat them in a final, but it was a well-deserved win for Los Vikingos, and they have yet another title under their belt. They have won the Spanish Super Cup in Saudi Arabia, a domestic cup won very much abroad.

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