Julen Loperetegui suffered his first defeat in his managerial debut for Real Madrid as his side lost 4-2 to their city Rivals Atletico Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup. Diego Costa was both hero and villain as Thibaut Courtois was a mere spectator heroics of his former teammates. Atletico finally got the better of Real on the European stage who played their first competitive game in the Post-Cristiano era. Diego Costa scored the fastest goal in the competition’s history as he gave his side the early lead within the first minute. Real bounced back and made it 2-1 as Los Blancos tried to show the world that they were capable of winning silverware without Ronaldo. Costa scored his second to draw level with Real and force extra time. Saul Niguez and Koke sealed victory with a goal each in the extra session of play as the won their first trophy of the 2018-19 season in the Estonian Capital. This was a significant victory for Atletico over their crosstown rivals and showed that they are a capable defensive side with the flair and creativity to stage comebacks. This has dented Lopetegui’s start to his Real Madrid tenure and he has to get back to the drawing board with the La Liga season starting this weekend.
Real Madrid played some excellent football for most of the second half of the same. What makes this annoying is that they were in place for an easy victory. They limited Atletico’s chances and forced their back four into mistakes that eventually lead to Sergio Ramos scoring a penalty to give their side the lead. Though, after going ahead, they simply lacked the ability to control the ebb and flow of the game. It appeared as if they were actively trying to sabotage their lead. Marcelo made a horrendous error when he kicked a ball back into play. Instead of giving Atletico a thrown in, he handed them a chance to level the game. The ball fell at the feet of Juanfran who squared the ball to Correa and found Diego Costa who brought his side back from the depths. Varane and Ramos looked out of synch. Both center backs hand chances to neutralize Diego Costa though neither of them showed the effort or ability to read the game to prevent him from scoring a brace. Varane was also complicit in Saul’s goal and had he had the ability to stay on his feet, he may have been able to force the midfielder into a tough position. Kroos and Casemiro were careless with ball and constantly found themselves in positions where they had to needlessly foul. Things may seem bleak for Real Madrid though continuity is the strength that Lopetegui can use to erase the blunders in this squad. It is frustrating to Real Madrid continue to by sloppy in their own half after a 2017-18 season that was littered with defensive lapses. One can only hope that he can get on his defenders and still cohesion in his backline to ensure these moments of lunacy are only a blip on the radar.
Benzema and Bale look good together:
It is not completely irrational for one to assume that the two would collapse without Cristiano Ronaldo in the lineup. The linked up plenty of times together and have looked very good since the beginning of preseason. For long periods in the second half, they look composed and linked up well. Both attackers looked to prove their doubters wrong as look aim to make-up for the whole left by Ronaldo. The duos best moment together when Bale made a sublime cross with off his weaker foot to before Benzema calmly headed the ball in. Hopefully this is just a glimpse of what is to come between two-thirds of the former B.B.C. It is critical for Lopetegui to get the most out of them. With an impatient boss in Florentino Perez who is joined by an even more exasperated group in the Los Blancos faithful. His job may ultimately depend on the ability of Benzema and Bale to win games and silverware.
The Madristas Faithful Need to chill
To everyone on twitter who wants to publically lynch Lopetegui, calm down. This was just one competitive game and in the grand scheme of things, it may not matter at all. There is no denying that this a bitter defeat. Losing to your city rivals in a game where you had one hand on the prize is brutally painful. But, the UEFA Super Cup is at best a glorified friendly. No coach in the history of a game has been judged by the outcome of their managerial debut for a club – especially in a game that has no real value. The first of at least city Madrid Derby’s should be used as a barometer to measure the success of Real Madrid or Julen Lopetegui. This team is not at full strength and is still trying to build their fitness after a shortened summer. The players are also still trying to figure out Lopetegui’s philosophy and the Spaniard is the process of finding out the strengths of his squad. Atleti had the advantage of having continuity in both manager and tactical scheme. There are plenty of talking points from this loss, some of which can be view as alarming. Real Madrid will definitely perform better in their La Liga opener against Getafe and during the coming season.