The always entertaining El Clasico pitted two hated rivals against each other early in the season. The La Liga champions Real Madrid, were forced to play the first leg away from home at the Copa Del Rey champions’ Camp Nou.
This version of El Clasico certainly did not disappoint, and after a boring first half, the Camp Nou came to life in the second. Goals by Pique (OG), Messi (penalty) after a Suarez dive, and two screamers by Ronaldo and Asensio won the day for Madrid.
Real Madrid's official starting XI #SuperCopa #ElClasico pic.twitter.com/d1lYy08Otv— M•A•J (@UltraSuristic_) August 13, 2017
Contrary to what many media outlets reported, Marcelo earned the start, while Ronaldo would play the role of impact substitute. The formation was one many Madrid fans have grown accustomed to as of late, with the 4-4-2 diamond becoming a Zidane staple. In place of the suspended Modric, Kovacic rightfully started over newcomers Dani Ceballos and Marcos Llorente.
Keylor Navas: 8
Along with Kovacic made a crucial interception to stop Messi right by the goal. Through an atrocious call after a shameful dive from Suarez, Navas was unlucky to concede a goal through a Messi penalty. Solid when called upon.
Dani Carvajal: 7.5
Made a great tackle on Deulofeu on the edge of the box. Had a crucial intervention after an excellent combination from Barca when Suarez looked set to put one on target. So unlucky not to score after fanastatic work from Benzema was followed by even better defending from Jordi Alba. Big defensive error by the Spaniard when he failed to clear the ball moments before a Busquets missed sitter.
Sergio Ramos: 8.5
Was always in the right place at the right time. Made many crucial interceptions, and was an absolute rock all night.
Raphael Varane: 8.5
Made countless interceptions and tackles. Used his speed well to snuff out counter attacks. Was lights out just like his defensive partner.
Varane-Ramos WC partnership. Can't believe some people still doubt Varane's talent. Playing on different level since the start of 2017.— Ayub (@KaizerT8_) August 13, 2017
Was his usual self on the left flank; skillful, energetic, and full of passion. Played in the cross that led to the Pique own goal. Good in defense but occasionally had suspect positioning.
Not the best performance for Casemiro. Another bad challenge on Messi, and another yellow card. Stopped a few attacks the way he usually does, but had to be much more careful while on a yellow.
Toni Kroos: 8.5
Fantastic with his passing, and was crucial for Madrid to break the patented Valverde high pressure.
Mateo Kovacic: 9.5
So. Much. Energy. Incredible display from Mateo Kovacic as his defensive actions were crucial in keeping Barca off the scoresheet while he was on the pitch. Helped mark Messi nearly out of the match. Impressive in every way. Fantastic performance in Modric’s absence.
Zidane: “Modric? We saw tonight that Kovacic played great, especially defensively. He marked Messi really well."— SocialRMadrid (@SocialRMadrid) August 13, 2017
It only took Isco a few minutes to start doing his thing, wowing even the Camp Nou. Madrid’s 2 best chances of the first half came when the Spaniard drifted over to the left wing. Was a great outlet on the counter all night for Madrid.
Gareth Bale: 6.5
Obviously not a natural fit up top, but still not up to par from Bale. Forced Ter Stegen into a decent save after lovely work from Isco on the wing. Played a good cross to find Isco in the box, but his header went over the bar. Another great cross found Ronaldo, whose audacious bicycle kick was hit over as well.
Karim Benzema: 6.5
Abysmal first half for the Frenchman. Uninvolved and ineffective. Much better in the second, however, especially in his hold-up play and combinations with Isco. Benzema skinned Pique before cutting to the by-line, and his cross found Carvajal who had hit shot saved off the line.
Cristiano Ronaldo (Substitute): 8
A Bale cross found him at the far post, but Ronaldo’s overhead kick was overhit. Right when Barca seized all momentum through Messi’s goal, the Portuguese superstar scored a spectacular goal to seize it right back. Sent off after a supposed dive. Will likely be suspended for a few games after his reaction towards the referee.
Ronaldo with a powerful message in tonight's celebration. pic.twitter.com/SCfXPGz9Tv— Lucas Navarrete (@LucasNavarreteM) August 13, 2017
Marco Asensio (Substitute): 9
What a finish from the starlet that is every bit as talented as Ousmane Dembele and Kylian Mbappe. Right when everyone thought the game was going to end 1-2, Asensio had to make sure to squeeze in the debut goals that he has become famous for.
Lucas Vazquez (Substitute): 7
Showed patience before releasing Asensio on Madrid’s third.
Zinedine Zidane: 10
All but one of his 3 subs scored, and the other provided an assist. Got his tactics spot on when all 3 goals came against Barca’s right flank, exposing both Vidal and Pique in space.
Man of the Match: Mateo Kovacic