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Immediate Reaction: Real Madrid 2 - 1 Manchester United

Real Madrid are the European Super Cup Champions!

Real Madrid v Manchester United: UEFA Super Cup Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images

Real Madrid are European Super Cup Champions — outclassing Manchester United on the pitch over the course of 90 (+7!) minutes. Here is our quick reaction to the match. This is the bare bones. Still to come: Player ratings, match review and post-game podcast.

Goals: Casemiro (‘24), Isco (‘52); Lukaku (‘62)

When Real Madrid scored their first goal of this game, it seemed like they had built it up for about seven minutes, pinning Manchester United with zipping passes, off-the-ball movement, and ample space to work with. After the goal, they strung so many passes together that fans couldn’t keep up their ‘ole’ chants, giving up after about the 20th consecutive pass — opting to enjoy the show and hold their breaths instead.

Real Madrid were very good tonight, considering it was their first game of the season and all. The scheme was versatile too. Bale was switching flanks — occassionally popping up through central channels — Isco roamed everywhere, Casemiro ventured forward with proper coverage. It’s hard to defend that kind of fluid football — you’re constantly guessing.

Mourinho gave Real Madrid the ball, and their initial high-press could only be sustained for so long in the tormenting heat. Sitting back against Real Madrid is something that worked two-three years ago. Under the Zidane era? It’s almost suicide. Isco, Modric, and Kroos lick their lips with time on their side. It’s not laborious for them to have to break through a barricade — it’s what they do in their spare time.

Real continued their momentum in the second half — Benzema holding up the ball tremendously well before Isco and Bale gave birth to a sexy goal. Momentum was proliferating, and but for Gareth Bale hitting the bar from a thundering right-footed strike, the lead would’ve been three.

But it wasn’t, and Lukaku pulled one back — a goal that was hinted at previously when Real Madrid refused to defend rebounds properly after Navas was unable to parry the save wide enough to clear the danger.

The match concluded with waves of counter-attacks from Real Madrid which Manchester United scrambled to deal with. Real Madrid are now the deserved European Super Cup Champions!

Miscellaneous notes

  • I’ve been Casemiro’s biggest critic in the past two seasons. He was absurdly good tonight on both ends of the field. Intercepting passes, retaining possession, contributing a lot offensively, showing as an outlet — he did really well.
  • Isco made an outside of the boot pass! It was to Modric! Ironic. And yeah, Isco was another standout tonight. He sucked in defenders and released it when he knew the defense was collapsing. His dribbling was a nightmare to deal with.
  • Kroos’ vertical passing is incredible. He was so patient with the ball, waiting for a cutting run and hitting them in stride rather than playing a simple pass.
  • Marcelo and Carvajal still don’t look themselves. It’s not something I’m worried about, because we know they’re reliable, and we know how important they are — but Marcelo had moments where he let Valencia get behind him, and not because he was caught up the field, but because he was just blindsided. Carvajal had a few wonky giveaways. Again, these are the two best full-backs on earth, so I’m nitpicking. They’ll come good.
  • Marouane Fellaini is tall.

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