It was a sluggish affair initially with a slow, meandering tempo as Real remained stuck in neutral throughout the opening 15 minutes. Sevilla, sporting a Rakitic sized hole in their midfield, maintained a decent share of possession early-on but were unable to press the advantage and threaten a sloppy Madrid backline.
Dani Carvejal in particular was guilty of a handful of poor decisions and careless giveaways, with one mistake gifting Sevilla possibly their best chance of the match in the 20th minute. Luckily for the swashbuckling right back, Iker Casillas was equal to the task, keeping the match level. It was all Los Blancos from there.
As always Cristiano Ronaldo would be the one to ignite Real's attack, as Mr. Slick and his effortless, omnipresent stepovers bamboozled a gaggle of Sevilla defenders at the edge of the box, winning a free-kick that he then looped dangerously off the top of the goal. It was like a cobra donning its hood.
From those sparks erupted a brilliant burst of light just moments later when CR7 found James Rodriguez who lifted a tantalizing cross into the box for Gareth Bale to push just wide. The same three men would connect in a fluid, deadly foray down the right of the pitch with Bale this time lobbing a gorgeous, curling ball directly onto the boot of Ronaldo who expertly slid it home in the 30th minute. It was big business as usual for the Portuguese legend who has punished the Andalusians mercilessly since his arrival in the Spanish capital, scoring an astonishing 18 times against them in all competitions.
Karim Benzema and Ronaldo hooked up on a lightning quick give-and-go early in the second that ended when Cristiano launched a rocket that bowled Beto over as it screamed into the right side of the net. Madrid led 2-0 and Sevilla barely threatened after that. Of the debuting players, Toni Kroos registered the most solid, assured performance, playing deep in the midfield and controlling the tempo with precise passing and excellent workrate.
The electric James was a little erratic, disappearing for spells, but showing just enough of the dazzling form he displayed in Brazil to keep Sevilla honest. This was perhaps to be expected as he is likely not at full fitness nor he is fully acclimated to his teammates. The aforementioned flashes of brilliance were indicative of what has the potential to be a destructive, world-beating partnership with Ronaldo, Bale and Benzema.
Gareth Bale seems truly transformed by the decima and he played in front of his home town fans with the power and confidence of a man growing seamlessly into the role of properly representing the Royal Whites on a global stage. Something I admittedly was unsure he was capable of last summer.
The defense looked a little vulnerable at times, especially when Carvejal and Fabio Coentrao both broke forward leaving swaths of space wide open down the flanks. Hopefully this will be corrected. Sevilla were unable to capitalize whereas other teams would likely have been able to exploit this advantage on the counter. All in all it was a good (if unspectacular) performance that achieved the goal of securing trophy number one in the 2014-15 campaign.
One down, One up.