Real Madrid won their first trophy of the season by winning the UEFA Super Cup 2-0 against Sevilla in Cardiff yesterday. Cristiano Ronaldo bagged both the goals with Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema providing the assists.
We learnt five things from the game in Cardiff.
- Based on the starting lineup, we could play 4-2-3-1 with Toni Kroos and Luka Modric playing as holding midfielders and James Rodriguez, Cristiano and Bale playing behind/alongside Benzema who plays as the lone striker. Or we can play 4-3-3 (as we did for most part) where James pushes back to help out in ball recovery and defence. There can also be a switch between Bale and Cristiano to switch flanks from left to right and vice-versa. The first goal came as a result of Bale switching to the left and Cristiano moving to the right and then darting into the middle. We have plenty of options in terms of strategy and we’re not even considering the bench yet!
- Kroos integrated beautifully with the back four, with Modric alongside and with the attack in front of him. It was hard to believe that it was his first game for a new club - for a team that is as fluid in it’s movement as Real Madrid is. The German was calm and composed as Xabi Alonso and tricky and creative as Modric. With his inclusion, however, I see Illarramendi becoming fourth choice when it comes to defensive midfield role.
- Contrary to the belief that Cristiano is unfit and forcing himself to play in order to win the trophy he has never won, he was fully fit. He did apply an ice-pack post the game but on the pitch Cristiano didn’t look in any sort of discomfort or affected by most challenges that came his way. On top of that, he scored a brace so all is well on the Cristiano front.
- Sami Khedira and Angel Di Maria didn’t get a chance to play in the UEFA Super Cup. Khedira wasn’t in the starting XI or even on bench, Di Maria on the other remained an unused substitute. Some would speculate Ancelotti is playing it safe with Di Maria but in Khedira’s case, the exit seems certain. There are many options now for the same role. Di Maria, I believe, is a player Real Madrid should try and keep for his ability to change games on their head with his speed and agility but if he is set to be forced to the bench and not play week-in, week-out, he would want a future elsewhere.
- Iker Casillas had a reasonably quiet game but for three good quality saves to continue his run of 14 years without losing a final and get a clean sheet after a string of poor performances for the club and Spain. Many started to question if he was past his prime and if Diego Lopez’s exit was a silly move by the club’s hierarchy. But, above all, Casillas needs some good games under his belt and get his confidence back. Once he’s able to do that, the questions would go away.
What did you make of the game and what were your learnings from it?