James Rodriguez scored on his Bernabeu debut in the first leg of Supercopa which finished 1-1 and gives Atletico Madrid an all important away goal going into the second leg at the Vicente Calderon on Friday.
Here are my five takeaways from the first leg:
- Playing the trio of Xabi Alonso, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos will not do the job of getting the goals. It makes the midfield static and reduces the creativity required. A better combination will be of two of these players and a more creative and fluid player alongside - maybe Angel Di Maria, Isco or James. Even if we stick to Xabi, Modric and Kroos, the passing needs to be quicker and more penetrative than what it was - contained.
- Despite the talk of him being okay, it is clear that Cristiano Ronaldo isn’t. He was substituted at halftime with James Rodriguez coming on. The early word was that he took a knock to the left foot. It is better to have him rested for a longer period if need be, can’t have him missing during the season.
- Sergio Ramos needs to stay calm. Twice in a few minutes he was on the verge of being sent off and both with Mario Mandzukic. In the first one, as both players came down fighting for an aerial delivery, Ramos looked to have punched the Croatian. However it was done cleverly to make it seem it was accidental, or maybe it was. Either way, Ramos should act better. He’s been with the club long enough and he should understand the toll it takes on the institution. More than anything, it is disgraceful for a Real Madrid player to do it.
- While our goal was really scrappy, their goal was avoidable. We had four players at the front post marking *ONE* Atleti player and in the middle, Gareth Bale let Raul Garcia (the scorer) completely free. The players at the front post impeded Iker’s vision of the ball and we conceded from our usual nightmare - set piece.
- Agreeing with Bassam Dgheim, the ideal solution should be to sell Sami Khedira (which seems definite now with him not playing any part in the first leg), loan Asier Illarramendi and retain Angel Di Maria. Sure it sends the finances into disarray with Di Maria asking for a massive pay rise (€9 - €9.5 million a year) but that would be the ideal sporting course of action. Even financial one considering many fans present at the Bernabeu cheered as Di Maria warmed up and came on. The fans buying tickets wish to see Di Maria stay. But will Florentino Perez or even Di Maria agree to it?
What did everyone make of the game? And the learnings above?